If you have fibromyalgia, there is a good chance you are dealing with other health conditions too. Some of these comorbid illnesses include sleep issues, gastrointestinal difficulties, headaches, cognitive problems, depression and/or anxiety, multiple chemical sensitivities, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). These and many more conditions seem to go hand in hand with fibromyalgia. Perhaps you've experienced some or even most of them. I certainly did.
For folks with fibromyalgia, falling asleep, staying asleep and getting restful sleep can be a struggle, making quality sleep more the exception than the rule. And sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome (RLS) and sleep apnea are common. You've likely experienced sleepless nights yourself and know how much worse the pain and fatigue can be after a restless night.
If you frequently experience nausea, diarrhea and/or constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, or gas, it could indicate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that commonly coexists with fibromyalgia. Some findings suggest that a fibromyalgia-related yeast overgrowth may be a culprit in the fibromyalgia-IBS connection. Also, certain medications widely prescribed to treat fibromyalgia may cause GI side effects. (Visit drugs.com for unbiased information on drugs.)
Tension headaches and migraines seem to work in tandem with fibromyalgia. It's likely that tight muscles in the shoulders, upper back, and neck help trigger headache or migraine. According to some findings, those headaches can be pretty severe and often become chronic. The good news is that you may be able to treat or even prevent migraines by discovering what triggers them. Reactions to certain foods and chemicals are often contributing factors. (Also see neuralgia below.)
If you're having trouble concentrating or remembering things, you're not alone. This cognitive problem often referred to as "fibro fog," is something that many people with fibromyalgia experience. It's not entirely clear what causes it. It could be lack of sleep, or perhaps the distraction of chronic pain makes it hard to focus and remember things. The good news: Studies have revealed that cognitive-behavioral therapy can help boost cognitive function. (See recent blog.)
Depression and Anxiety
It's no surprise that persistent pain and fatigue can mess with your mind. But for many folks with fibromyalgia, pain-induced mood swings are more than a nuisance. They can lead to clinical depression or anxiety. If you're feeling overwhelmed, excessively sad, numb, hopeless, or fearful about your condition, speak with your doctor.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
People with fibromyalgia may find that they are highly sensitive to chemicals, including medications. This is often seen among people who also have fibromyalgia, which is characterized by hypersensitivity to various kinds of stimuli, including light, sound, and texture. People in this category can be very challenging to treat because as soon as they are re-exposed to a trigger, their symptoms return. Allergy elimination such as NAET is often useful.
Although less common than other coexisting conditions, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) develops in about one-quarter of fibromyalgia sufferers. It's not entirely clear why, although tight muscles may be a culprit. Stress causes people to clench and grind their teeth and may lead to spasms in the muscles of the jaw. If you're experiencing pain in the face and jaw area, check with your dentist. Applying hot and cold packs, and wearing a mouth guard at night can help alleviate TMJ. My chiropractor is skilled at relieving TMJ and eliminated my TMJ many years ago.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome often go hand in hand. Is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) the same thing as fibromyalgia? Welcome to the debate. Despite the lack of consensus, both conditions do share many of the same symptoms, including overwhelming fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood disorders, and headaches. But many experts believe they are separate conditions and that the main symptom that distinguishes fibromyalgia from CFS is the pain. Even more confusing, most people with fibromyalgia also develop chronic fatigue and many with chronic fatigue syndrome also have pain. Fortunately, many of the holistic treatments for fibromyalgia also help reduce many symptoms from CFS.
Since fibromyalgia patients are already in pain, neuralgia symptoms may be written off as just being a part of the condition. However, neuralgia often leads to abnormal sensations in the skin, tenderness, and trigger points that are sensitive to the touch. Trauma is often the cause of neuralgia, and many fibromyalgia patients find that their condition has set in after a head or neck injury, sometimes years later. Cervical chiropractic helped me a lot.
Quote of the Day
And so, I wait... I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to my feet once again so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.
~ Jack Canfield, Autor of Chicken Soup for the Soul
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