Have you heard of fibromyalgia before?
As a disorder that affects more than 3 million people per year in the United States, chances are you probably have. But if you haven’t, Mona Idrees, MD, a rheumatologist in our Greenville market, is here to help you understand it.
“Fibromyalgia is caused when signals of touch on the body are transmitted to the brain several times over,” she explains. “It’s a disorder of how the nerve transmission carries pain messages up to our brain, how they’re detected and then what it does about it.”
This disorder of the nerves means there is nothing actually wrong with the body that is creating pain – it’s just a misfire of nerves that causes widespread pain. Typically, the disorder is made up of widespread musculoskeletal pain. It’s also often associated with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, similar diseases that cause pain throughout the body.
Although anyone can have fibromyalgia, you are at a greater risk if you are female or have a family history of it. Though there is no known prevention or cure for the disorder, there are ways to help manage the disease, as well as keep the pain under control.
First, make sure you are getting enough sleep.
“You have to get an adequate amount of sleep each night,” Dr. Idrees suggests. “At minimum, a solid six to eight hours is needed if you want to feel a release from the pain of fibromyalgia.”
Also, make sure you’re exercising.
“A lot of people think exercising will only increase the amount of pain they are experiencing, but actually, you’re just training your brain to handle a new level of activity and pain,” Dr. Idrees explains. “Once you’re used to it, it’ll become your new normal and you’ll start to feel a lot better.”
The use of medication can be beneficial, too – but only if you’re taking advantage of the above sleep and exercise therapies first.
“Treatment drugs, like Cymbalta or Lyrica, can be a great resource for fibromyalgia when they are combined with other beneficial treatments and exercises,” Dr. Idrees adds. “These treatment drugs are not ideal when used on their own, and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone do that. When taken with other therapies, they can be really helpful at weakening the impulses sent to the brain.”