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6 Strange Signs of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic phenomenon known for its widespread cognitive symptoms, lower abdominal pain, and overall hypersensitivity. The American Academy of Rheumatology defines the condition as a neurological disorder characterized by pain and tenderness that can give rise to symptoms of fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. It affects around 2% of the world's population and is prevalent in women aged 20-55.
The exact etiology of the condition is unknown. But the chronic nature of the problem, accompanied by limited treatment options, results in psychiatric comorbidities and lower cognitive deficits in concentration difficulties, forgetfulness, decreased vocabulary, poor verbal fluency, and mental slowness.
Here are some distinctive signs of fibromyalgia that affects people of different ages, genders, and ethnicities.
What are the 6 Strange Signs of Fibromyalgia?
Paresthesia is a burning or pricking sensation in the individual's hands, legs, arms, and feet but can occur in other body parts. It is said to happen because of an altered nerve or nerve pathway function; the problem's route lies in the sensory pathway of the body.
Paresthesia in fibromyalgia patients is often accompanied by pain conditions and is a common phenomenon. In a retrospective review of 161 patients with fibromyalgia, 84% of the subjects complained of paresthesia or numbness/tingling during the initial evaluation period. The majority of the subjects had bilateral upper and lower extremity paresthesias.
Of the total number of patients, Thirty-six subjects with paresthesias had electromyograms performed before the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, while 32 had usual symptoms. At a second assessment performed at a mean of 25 months from the diagnosis, 56 of these 57 patients reported current paresthesias. The study concluded that paresthesias are common in fibromyalgia and may mimic a neurologic disorder but without nerve damage.
Paresthesias aren't required to be treated unless they are painful and disruptive. When they become painful, both over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, either oral/topical, provide symptomatic relief to the patient.
Pain due to a stimulus that usually does not provoke pain is allodynia. Allodynia in fibromyalgia conditions can be either tactile when caused by touch, in the form of physical touch or clothing pressing against your body, mechanical allodynia when the pain is caused by movement across the skin like bedsheets or air by the fan, or thermal allodynia when caused by temperature changes of a mild-moderate form.
Studies have shown that the neurochemical imbalances in the central nervous system lead to a central amplification of pain perception characterized by allodynia symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. It is often confused with hyperalgesia, an increased response to painful stimuli though the two are different phenomena.
The phenomenon is said to arise from sensitization of the nociceptors or free nerve endings located throughout the body, including skin, bones, muscles, and joints. Treatment options for allodynia in fibromyalgia conditions include tricyclic antidepressants, seizure drugs like Pregabalin and Neurontin, and topical Lidocaine.
Hyperacusis and Hyperosmia
Hyperacusis refers to a sensitivity to sound perception that can give rise to fear, annoyance, and aural facial pain symptoms. Though a rare phenomenon, it is associated with fibromyalgia conditions and is impacted by stimulus duration, frequency, and noise bandwidth.
Animal models have shown that the problem arises due to the amplification of neural signals from the damaged cochlea. In addition to auditory pathways involvement, non-auditory regions of the brain related to emotions, memory, and stress are involved in the phenomenon.
In addition to hyperacusis, hyperosmia, or sensitivity to smell, is another phenomenon observed in fibromyalgia patients. It arises due to an abnormally increased signal between the olfactory receptors and the olfactory cortex.
In short, the sensory sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients is much more than in people without fibromyalgia symptoms. In a study conducted to compare the sensory sensitivity of women with fibromyalgia and those with rheumatoid arthritis, those with fibromyalgia were more sensitive to sensory experiences in daily life than women with rheumatoid arthritis.
There are currently no drugs or treatment options for hyperacusis or hyperosmia conditions. Treating the underlying disease can provide the patient with symptomatic relief to a moderate extent.
Brain fog (also known as fibro fog) is popularly referred to because of its association with fibromyalgia conditions. It is an umbrella term used to describe the brain problems associated with the situation. Loss of mental clarity, attention and memory impairment, problems in concentration, and difficulty in holding a conversation are all included in brain fog symptoms.
Patients with fibromyalgia often report forgetfulness and declines in cognitive function, memory, and mental alertness symptoms. These problems can impact your daily activities and affect your academic/social life.
The exact reason for fibrofog is unclear, but according to a hypothesis, it is because of the dysregulation of specific neurological pathways and neurotransmitters that play a role in an individual's cognitive functioning.
In addition to decreased cognitive function, sleep loss, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea are other associated fibro fog problems left untreated, which can progress into depressive tendencies.
Usually, the fibro fog symptoms are experienced during fibromyalgia flare-ups, and the symptoms gradually fade away after the flare-ups reduce. Limiting caffeine intake, stress management, and exercise can help manage your symptoms during this time.
Dystonia is a complex neurological movement disorder characterized by repetitive muscle contractions. It is theorized to originate from noradrenaline receptors because of dopaminergic-noradrenergic imbalance induced by fibromyalgia conditions.
Dystonia is classified as primary dystonia when it is the sole characteristic symptom experienced by the individual or combined when it occurs in combination with other movement disorders.
It can affect all parts of your body when it is of a generalized nature or affect a particular area when it is of a focal nature. Curative therapies are as yet unavailable for the problem. Botulinum injections, deep brain stimulation, and managing the underlying problem can control the tremors.
Lipomas are fatty, non-cancerous tumors located just below the skin. They are associated with Dercums disease in fibromyalgia conditions and of a painful nature. They are usually uncommon and, when they appear, are associated with fatigue, weakness, confusion, and sleep disturbances in the individual.
Dercums lipomas in fibromyalgia are usually found on the trunk, upper arms, and legs at a superficial level or in a much deeper dermal layer. The size of these lipomas can vary from tiny pea-sized nodules to plum or fist-sized growths.
Researchers have observed that fibromyalgia dercum lipomas have more connective tissue than other lipomas, which explains their painful and inflamed nature. Analgesics are the most common treatment options for painful fibromyalgia lipoma, but if required, they might need to be surgically excised to provide therapeutic relief to the patient.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that has profound physiological and psychological impacts on the individual's life. In addition to usual symptoms of fatigue, tiredness, pain, and stiffness, lipomas, dystonias, brain fog, and paresthesia are some unusual symptoms experienced by fibromyalgia-impacted people. Care should be taken to address symptoms early to get symptomatic relief from the problems.
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