What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term medical condition of unknown cause that results in joint, tendon, soft tissue, and muscle pain and gives rise to many symptoms and can affect a number of parts of the body. It should come as no surprise that fibromyalgia can cause eye problems as the eye contains six main muscles to control movement.
Research has shown that people with the disease have abnormal nerves that are more sensitive to normal pain signals compared to people without the condition. Over time it can cause nerve deterioration. Because fibromyalgia affects the nervous system it can affect a person’s vision.
Who it Affects
Anyone can develop fibromyalgia. It’s not clear exactly how many people are affected by fibromyalgia however estimates suggest that up to 4% of the population may suffer from the disease. The condition is more commonly found in those between the ages of 20 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly. Women are 10 times more likely to get fibromyalgia than men.
As well as widespread and increased sensitivity to pain, people with fibromyalgia may also suffer from:
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- muscle stiffness
- difficulty sleeping
- problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”) such as problems with memory and concentration
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that causes stomach pain and bloating.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult, as there is no specific test and symptoms can vary and are similar to those of several other conditions.
There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are some treatments which can help relieve some of the symptoms and make the condition easier to live with.
Treatment usually involves a combination of:
- medication – such as painkillers or herbal remedies such as Devil’s Claw and Arnica.
- lifestyle changes – such as diet, exercise programmes (yoga) and relaxation techniques (aromatherapy, reflexology).
Exercise in particular has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including helping to reduce pain.
Although inflammatory markers have not yet been discovered, it is plausible that an autoimmune basis for fibromyalgia extremely likely and it is probable that systemic or ‘SILENT’ inflammation resulting from the damaging effects of free radicals is the cause of the as yet unexplained muscle pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia.
Many people suffering from fibromyalgia find that the food they eat can have an impact on the symptoms they experience. It has been demonstrated that a diet which provides good quality phytonutrients will counter the free radical damage, and also improve the immune system.
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