The following blogs will go through the big six symptoms of Fibromyalgia which almost everybody suffering with fibro will have. also included will be the mechanism behind that particular symptom.
Today, we’ll speak about “pain” perhaps the most troublesome for the most people.
Pain: The great majority of people with Fibromyalgia have pain, but not the typical pain that most people know and understand. It’s a deep burning type of pain which is just about impossible to describe to another person. The pain can be widespread (all over the body), can be centered in the arms or legs, the upper half or lower half of the body and even can be on just the right or just the left side of the body. The pain can lesson, increase, get worse, get better, without any apparent rhyme or reason. So why is this happening?
First, you must understand that Fibromyalgia is a nervous system that is running on overdrive. The system is constant firing at a much higher rate than the normal person. Now the nervous system is made up of 2 pairs of 12 cranial nerves which are in the upper neck and head and 31 pairs of spinal nerves which travel from the spinal cod to all parts of the body. These nerves are constant firing and when they constantly fire, they cause pain. It has been estimated that it only takes a dime’s worth of pressure on a nerve to make it fire. (According to a study done at the University of Colorado 20 years ago). Another way of looking at this is to picture yourself when you gently tap your “funny bone”, does it not seem like your arm and hand is about to explode? This is an example of a nerve firing.
With fibro many and sometimes most of these nerves are continuously firing, thus leading to pain.
Now, suppose you have horrendous fibro pain ion the leg. The doctor performs every type of test, including an MRI and an EEG yest cannot see any problem inn the leg. This is because the pain is firing from the spinal nerve which is located in the lower back. Therefore, in a sense, the pain from Fibromyalgia is “Phantom Pain”, the pain is there, it is real, it is horrible, yet it is originating from another place, not where the pain itself is. This is one of the reason why doctors have so much trouble with fibro.
Think back to the young men who returned from a war, missing an arm or leg. They insist that they still feel the leg and can actually describe exactly where, on the leg), the pain is, yet they no longer have the leg. This is phantom pain, similar to what a person with Fibro is dealing with.
Another cause of the pain also relates to these same nerves. Nerves control all the muscles in your body. In fact you might think of the reason for the existence of most muscles to be to move bones, nothing more and nothing less. Think of lifting a glass with your forearm (the part from your elbow to your hand), the biceps muscle has to contract so the arm lifts up. when you place the glass down, the triceps muscle moves the forearm in the other direction. I won’t get into the entire biochemical process, but suffice it to say, the end product of muscle metabolism is Lactic acid which our bodies would normal flush out via the lymph circulation, into the blood circulation and than through the kidneys until you urinate it from the body.
When the nerves are firing on overdrive, the muscles are constantly contracting. (This is why so many of you have that constant tightness in the neck and shoulders). There is so much lactic acid being produced that the body just cannot get rid of it all and the extra lactic acid starts to accumulate in the bellies of the muscles. As the lactic acid would harm the muscles, the body than lays down fibrous tissue (think of a cloth like material) that covers the pockets of lactic acid to prevent it from doing any harm.
I realize that many of your well intentioned doctors tell you that you must constantly exercise and even to push yourselves. This is just plain incorrect. when you do this, you teat the fibrous tissue, which itself causes pain and also allows great amounts of the lactic acid to be released into the body. This is why so many of you say that after being very active or exercising, you are on your backs for 2 or 3 days, trying to recover. Thus, this is another cause of the deep burning pain so common in Fibromyalgia.
As you can see, you have two overlapping mechanisms causing you pain, the pain nerves which are constantly firing and the breaking down of fibrous tissue leading to the lactic acid entering your body in large amounts.
For those who are exercising, it is imperative to drink lots of water to help flush some of the lactic acid out of the body. Keep a bottle with you and sip on it all during the day. this also holds true for those who have a good massage therapist (A massage therapist who does not understand Fibro will many times cause you to flare). Again drink water before and after the massage. (remember that water is important, even for those without fibro and that a good percentage of the population does not drink enough and is dehydrated).
Last note on pain, the same nerves that cause pain also carry sensation. therefore, many will find their skin to be overly sensitive to touch. Just a husband gently touching a wife’s should can be excruciating. This skin sensitivity can be anywhere and everywhere in the body, from the head down to the feet.
Next: More of the big 6 symptoms!