By Denise Mann
About 10 million Americans have fibromyalgia, which is characterized by painful spots that extend throughout the body; insomnia; and cognitive problems known as fibro fog.
Unfortunately, people with fibromyalgia are more likely than people in the general population to have other conditions as well.
If you have fibromyalgia, here are seven other health problems.
A significant number of people with fibromyalgia also experience migraines and / or tension headaches, says Robert Duarte, MD, director of the Pancreatic Health Institute of the State of Northern Pain, in Manhasset, New York state.
“An underlying disruption of brain chemical serotonin and norepinephrine plays a role in the cause of headaches and fibromyalgia,” he says.
Antidepressants that attack these brain chemicals can relieve migraine pain, he adds. Tension headaches can also respond to tobiofeedback.
Up to a quarter of people with inflammatory autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and ankylosing spondylitis, also experience fibromyalgia symptoms. The exact nature of this connection is still not understood.
Fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disease, but some research suggests that rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases may increase the risk of fibromyalgia.
Insomnia and other sleep problems are common in patients with fibromyalgia, says Lesley Arnold MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Restless legs, or the irresistible need to move the legs at rest, can be up to 11 times more common in people with fibromyalgia than in those who do not. It is not understood exactly how the two are linked, but many fibromyalgia treatments also improve restless legs, not to mention the overall quality of sleep.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is marked by abdominal cramps and episodes of constipation and / or diarrhea. Between 30% and 70% of people with fibromyalgia also have IBS.
“Like fibromyalgia, IBS is a pain syndrome,” says Dr. Arnold.
People with fibromyalgia are more likely to report pelvic pain, bladder irritability, and menstrual cramps, and some of the medications that relieve fibromyalgia symptoms can also relieve these pains.
More research is needed to understand how these pain conditions are related to fibromyalgia.
Depression and anxiety
More than half of people with fibromyalgia also have mental or emotional disorders, such as depression and anxiety, at some point in their lives. “It’s less a causal relationship or the chicken and the egg,” says Dr. Arnold. “(But) they can share common, underlying causes. ”
The lack of brain chemicals, serotonin and noradrenaline, are implicated in mood and pain disorders, he says. Many medications used to treat fibromyalgia are also antidepressants.
“Obesity and fibromyalgia share a complicated relationship, and there is one that we can not ignore,” says Dr. Arnold.
Many people with fibromyalgia lead a sedentary lifestyle due to their chronic pain and the lack of regular physical activity increases the risk of being overweight or obese.
“Being overweight generates more mechanical stress on the joints, which can cause more pain and aggravate fibromyalgia,” says Dr. Arnold. In addition, fat stores are proinflammatory, which can also exacerbate pain.