Fibromyalgia is a Great Mimic of Other Illnesses
Fibromyalgia is a perplexing illness. It’s hard to diagnose, it mimics other illnesses such as MS and Lupus and has over 200 known symptoms. Some of the symptoms are, well… weird! Sufferers experience pain at the lightest touch, and, chronic fatigue with no exertion.
But Fibromites also experience bizarre symptoms like, smells that they have never smelled before, sensory overload with light, sound and visual tracking. They also suffer from what is known as brain fog (aka fibro fog), a symptom that causes their usual IQ to be more or less halved for a time.
I’m not being flippant here. When the brain fog hits, sufferers can’t think clearly, become uncoordinated and clumsy and have poor short-term memory function.
There are 3 Known Causes of Fibromyalgia
Trauma – Physical or emotional trauma can affect the nervous system and cause dysfunction in communication between the brain and spinal cord. This can include a car crash or accident, long-term stress or anxiety, death of a loved one, PTSD
Another Illness or Virus – Many sufferers of conditions like Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis go on to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Studies also suggest that viruses that give the immune system a bashing, like influenza and glandular fever, are some of the known causes of fibromyalgia syndrome
Genetics – Studies of DNA from family members with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue syndrome show up a number of genes that could help explain why these disorders seem to run in families. You can order a free booklet on FMS here from NIAMS
The Latest Criteria for Diagnosing FMS are as Follows-
- Widespread pain lasting at least three months
- Presence of other symptoms such as extreme fatigue and cognitive issues
- No other underlying condition that might be causing the symptoms
Notice these new criteria do not mention the 18 known tender points previously thought to be one of the most important indicators of fibromyalgia. Apparently, this is due to the fact that, fibromyalgia pain can wax and wane, and doctors are never sure how hard to press! You can read more on this issue at the Mayo Clinic
Like most FM sufferers, it took a lot of time and sick days before I got my own diagnosis. And yes, while there are 3 known causes as laid out above, it’s worth a mention that I had a car crash prior to diagnosis. But, I also had a chronic vitamin D deficiency that had not been picked up at all. I’ve carried out my own research on vitamin D deficiency and fibromyalgia/CFS and what I found is startling. I believe it’s information we should all be aware of… and tested for!
Recently, scientists have confirmed earlier research that FMS patients have widespread inflammation in the brain. Through the use of PET scans and a control group, they found that the degree and areas of inflammation in fibromyalgia patients are directly related to their degree of pain and fatigue.
So maybe there aren’t just 3 known causes of fibromyalgia… maybe there are 4
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