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Does fibromyalgia keep you from participating in your life?

Not even with all of the medical technology and advancement that has taken place in recent years, researchers and doctors still cannot pin down what causes fibromyalgia. Some believe it stems from an issue involving the brain and pain signals. Others compare it to arthritis even though it does not cause swelling, damage to your joints or redness.

As far as you are concerned, it doesn't matter what causes it. All you know is that your pain and fatigue keep you from participating in life. You find yourself exhausted, unable to remember things and moody. Considering the amount of pain you live with, who can blame you?

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia

Tiredness, pain, memory problems and mood swings aren't the only symptoms of this syndrome. Other signs and symptoms include those listed below:

  • Muscle fatigue that causes cramps and twitching
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Numbness or tingling of hands and feet
  • Restless legs syndrome

More women than men tend to suffer from fibromyalgia. Approximately four million people over the age of 18 suffer from this condition. Most people don't receive a diagnosis until they are between the ages of 35 and 45, despite suffering from chronic pain from a younger age. Stress, changes in weather and hormonal changes, such as those that occur during a woman's menstrual period, appear to trigger a flare-up of this syndrome.

Since no one really knows what causes it, you could spend a substantial amount of time going from doctor to doctor, attempting to figure out what's wrong with you. It may take a long time to receive your diagnosis. Most doctors agree that they can determine a diagnosis after approximately three months of chronic pain throughout your body that is accompanied by fatigue, memory problems and mood issues.

Treating fibromyalgia

The Food and Drug Administration has approved three medications for treating this condition, and counseling may help. Otherwise, managing your symptoms is mostly up to you. You may find the following helpful:

  • Reducing stress
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Regular physical activity
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Relaxation exercises

Even if you do all of these things and follow your doctor's orders, you may still not be able to work or participate in activities you used to enjoy. At some point, this could affect your family's finances, and you may be looking for an alternative income stream. It is possible to apply for Social Security disability benefits, but unlike the management of your symptoms, you do not have to bear the burden of seeking out those benefits on your own.

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