The nervous system and brain in fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a neurological syndrome instead of a rheumatologic syndrome. So, we can say that while still in a mystery, it is finally recognized that the root cause of FMS is not based on joint or other tissues but in the nervous system.
It also means that the center of understanding and managing the symptoms is brain and the nervous system. Pain is not the only obvious physical symptom, but there are more elusive systems due to which your ability to focus and clear thinking is affected. Here are some symptoms and their connection with the nervous system and brain:
People with FMS know well about the pain. But all we need to recognize is that the pain arises from the dysfunctioning in the nervous system. That is the reason why pain is relieved from neurological medications. Still, there are a lot of questions that need answers regarding fibromyalgia. It is believed that neurotransmitters that can cause depression can actually relate to the issues of FMS pain. So it should not be surprising that FMS treatment can be helpful with the drugs that treat those chemicals.
Another consideration is that hyperalgesia in the nervous system causes some of the pain in FMS. In this condition, you feel more pain than should have. It means that the nerves that sense pain and the pain receptors get hyperactive, and due to which more pain signals are received. In result, more pain is experienced than usual.
Chronic headaches are another kind of pain that people with FMS suffer from. These headaches can turn from a dull ache to a migraine headache. 75% of people who are having fibromyalgia treatment are also migraine sufferers. The inflammation in the arteries around the brain causes migraines and it is considered that the sensitivity to pain that patient of FMS is already having results in more severe headaches.
Difficulty in sleep is the most challenging issue for people with FMS. In the first place, you find it difficult to even going to sleep, but if you do so, you wake up too early and then unable to sleep again.
Variety of cognitive difficulties that come up with fibromyalgia are covered in brain fog of fibro fog. Symptoms include vocabulary issues. You find it difficult to find a word, or you mix up words, or sometimes you use wrong words. Brain fog can take you in confusion, memory issues and focus.
Having FMS can cause various symptoms and these symptoms are going at the same time. So researchers find it difficult to know that either FMS is the cause of brain fog or it is caused by a sleep disorder that comes along with such chronic pains.
Research has shown that brain fog symptoms are a separate issue. But some studies have shown that there is limited blood flow in the brain of many FMS patients and are starving parts of the brain of oxygen. Another theory says that brain itself is affected by the chronic pain. The constant active part of the brain that is used for emotional response distorts the brain itself.
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome patients have one complaint in common and that is they get low quality sleep. In the first place, they find it hard to sleep and the sleep they usually take is poor. They don’t get any rest from the sleep. Your pain gets worse due to sleep deprivation and fatigue. The situation gets even worse. Pain can be improved if the sleep gets better.
Focus and distraction
Your ability to focus on the task can be affected by FMS. You can get distracted easily. So, you need to work on the mental blinders to focus on the task.
The issue with memory is common for people with FMS. Especially it affects your short-term memory. You find it difficult to remember the things that are just happened.
As mathematics is considered to be tough for a lot of people but FMS sufferers find it difficult to solve even the simple equations and remembering the sequencing or numbers.
Difficulty in reminding directions
It can give you a very tough time. Sometimes, you forget which way goes to the store. You get confused with the directions and the paths you use on daily basis.
Anxiety or Depression
Still, it is unclear that either chronic pain causes it or FMS directly causes it. It occurs when FMS occurs. This is the reason why anti-depressants work for FMS as well.
Now, it is known that FMS is a neurological condition. Now many drug treatments are focusing on the brain and nervous system. More drugs are coming and developing that directly acts on the nervous system, while anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids are still in use.
Acetaminophen or paracetamol is an effective over-the-counter painkiller. Same substance has different names in different countries. Like patients in North America will be familiar with name “acetaminophen”.
Only inflammation is not smoothed out by this drug, but also, this drug helps in blocking pain sensations from nervous system to brain by acting directly on the nervous system. Because the main focus is on neurological condition. It is one of the most useful painkillers for FMS.
Fibromyalgia has a long history of being considered as a psychosomatic condition. So, people with FMS are also prescribed with anti-depressants. But, these drugs help in balancing neurotransmitters in your brain, due to which pain get less.
Moreover, it is common for people to exhibit depression while having FMS. This simply doesn’t mean that fibromyalgia is only “in your head”. It’s a reality that people are facing.
Sleep issues can be treated with anti-depressants. Amitriptyline is also prescribed to you since this drug hasn’t approved by FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia. However, a doctor can prescribe any medication that seems useful to you.
The spasm can be reduced by these drugs as well as these drugs help to calm the nervous system. The major issue with FMS sufferers is that the nerves send too many pain signals to the brain. These drugs help to control these signals. Lyrica (a trade name for drug pregabalin) is the first drug approved by FDA.
It is thought that the ability of nerves to send too many pain signals to each other get reduced by Lyrica. An impulse that causes seizures also gets reduced by it.
The treatments used for fibromyalgia also shows that fibromyalgia is a neurological disorder rather than a rheumatoid disease.