Helping Clients Cope with Fibromyalgia. Part 2

July 26th, 2012 · No Comments ·

What causes it?

What causes fibromyalgiaremains unanswered, although medical researchers have made some progress in understanding the nature of the disorder. Researchers currently believe that people develop fibromyalgia when something goes awry with pain processing signals in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Even though there does not appear to be anything “wrong” with the muscles and joints, the brain is still receiving signals that it interprets as pain.

Evidence for this theory comes from elevated levels of certain neurochemicals in the central nervous system in people with fibromyalgia. One of these is a chemical called Substance P, which signals the brain to register pain. Serotonin (a chemical that helps prevent depression) levels are lower, as are growth hormone levels(growth hormone helps repair muscles).

But what causes these neurochemical changes? Some research suggests thata genetic component is involved. A significant subset of people with fibromyalgia havedeveloped the disorder following some form of acute trauma, such as a head or whiplash injury, or
a viral infection, leading researchers to suggest that, in some cases, such trauma may somehow precipitate fibromyalgia. But thisdoes not addressthe majority of people who endure similar trauma without developing fibromyalgia, or the many people whose fibromyalgia does not appear to be initiated by trauma.

Coping with fibromyalgia

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia;treatment methods, therefore, consist of applying techniques to reduce pain and other symptoms, and learning to cope with chronic pain and fatigue. A wide variety of medications are prescribed for people with fibromyalgia. Thosetypically given for muscle pain (glucocorticoids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants), however, rarely provide much relief. Some patients respond somewhat to various antidepressants, which may at least improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue. Unfortunately, there is no standard medication that consistently provides good results.

The lack of effective medicinemeans that people with fibromyalgia must take a holistic self-care approach, and discover what kindof therapies and what type oflifestyle work best. Healthcare providers have observed that many fibromyalgia patients have signs of psychopathology, including depression, sleep disturbances, poor concentration and fatigue. They don’t know, however, whether such symptoms are part of the fibromyalgia syndrome or a response to a disorder that causes a great deal of anxiety and frustration.

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