Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. Fibromyalgia is a type of chronic pain, which means it lasts for a long time and comes and goes. fibromyalgia can also cause fatigue (extreme tiredness), problems with memory and concentration, and mood swings. what we rarely talk about, however, is that some early symptoms of fibromyalgia seem to be the same for many people.
I often say how each neurodivergent disorder, such as ADHD, ASD, and anxiety, manifests differently from person to person. I’ve come to this conclusion through researching these disorders, looking at my own symptoms, and comparing notes with other people who have these disorders. Fibromyalgia is no different, but it is, on a certain level, worse.
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It is a confusing disorder, I’ll give it that.
Let’s take a closer look.
A little history lesson
The history of fibromyalgia is still being written, as researchers continue to uncover new information about this complex condition. What we do know is that fibromyalgia is not new. It has been around for centuries, possibly longer, but it was not formally recognized as its own disorder until the late 20th century(1987, to be exact). To this day, quite a few people still don’t really believe that fibromyalgia even exists… Including doctors.
Since it has been recognized as an actual disorder, scientists have developed several theories about what may cause fibromyalgia, but there is still no single accepted explanation for this widespread pain syndrome. In fact, we can’t even reach an agreement as to how to diagnose it. We used the “tender points” method for diagnosing fibromyalgia, which included 18 specific spots on the body. If 11 or more out of those 18 spots were painful to pressure, then we knew the patients had fibromyalgia.
But that, apparently, is not longer a thing.
Or so I was told when I went to get my own fibromyalgia diagnosed. Now, or at least in the past decade or so, rheumatologists make us take a lot of blood tests and work by elimination. Fibromyalgia is not an auto-immune disease, but since it looks so very similar to a few of them, rheumatologists need to make sure it is not being confused with one.
Still, to this day, I have to show up to my rheumatologist appointment about once a year with new blood tests. That is because we can’t just brush off auto-immune diseases. We call it fibromyalgia because that is what it seems to be, but it needs to be monitored in case it presents new symptoms later that could point to an auto-immune disease. Those diseases cannot be cured, but they often have more chances of being slowed down if found early.
So… what IS fibromyalgia??
It’s a whole lotta problems, is what it is.
For a quick summary, it’s a disorder where the brain keeps receiving pain messages from the nerve endings. It is unclear(again) if the brain is misidentifying the messages, or if the nerve endings are sending false messages to the brain.
It does not come with any inflammation, but it acts like it. Weather changes and stress affect fibromyalgia, just like it would arthritis or old injuries. It does not come with physical pain, but it makes it. It does not have any clear marker in the blood tests nor anything to be seen on an X-ray. Looking at it that way, I can certainly understand the skepticism of some doctors.
As I mentioned before, I like to compare notes with other people who have the same disorders as me. It helps seeing just how much a disorder can vary from one person to the other, but in this case, it brought up something oddly specific to my attention:
Nearly anyone I spoke to, minus those who’ve lived with it so long they couldn’t remember, said the exact same thing: it started in the hands. And so did mine! Way before I even thought of fibromyalgia as a diagnosis, my hand pains were pretty spectacular.
I soon had to stop with my dreams of piano, knitting, crochet, being a tattoo artist, painting, and other things that require a lot of precision work from my hands.
* DOUBLE CHECK ONLINE ABOUT HAND THING IF THERE HAS BEEN ANY DEVELOPMENTS
One theory of fibromyalgia is that it is hereditary. It has not been confirmed, but it is a solid theory. I knew to talk about fibromyalgia because my mother has it, and I’ve seen what it put her through. Thanks to that, I saw the signs early, and I was diagnosed about 5 years later (they really, really try to discourage you from it).
On another note, my father is healthy as a horse.
Genetics really screwed me over on this one.
While it is a very common thing for fibromyalgia to go from parent to child, and some researches have been conducted that were “inconclusive,” what I’d like to bring up is that it doesn’t have to be solely hereditary. Just like many other things that are hereditary, but also have cases with no family health history of it. Many researches theorized stress being a possible trigger. It could simply just be both!