Autoimmune Disease and Fibromyalgia
Why it is not an autoimmune disease.
It was once thought that fibromyalgia was part of the spectrum belonging to autoimmune diseases but this is not the case.
Autoimmune disease or disorders means that your immune system attacks your own body. This does not happen with fibromyalgia.
Our bodies are a very complex mass of organs, tissues, hormones, nerves and enzymes to name but a few. In sufferers of fibromyalgia it is thought that the irregularities in hormones are responsible for the pain that the suffers feel or alterations in the neurotransmitter regulation causes problems with the immune system.
The neurotransmitters in the brain are responsible for sending a chemical message that is released by a nerve cell. The nerve cell or neuron sends signals to other nerve ends, sending signals to tissue and muscle, via the cells. Relaying messages that make the body work. Nerves or neurons come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are tiny hair like structures that are only 4 microns wide, whilst others are up to 100 microns wide.
These nerve cells are what make up our nervous system. They communicate data from our brains and down our spinal cord by sending electrical signals that travel the whole length of our bodies to receptors. If there is an imbalance in the hormone structure this is what could cause suffers with fibromyalgia to get bouts of soft tissue pain.
What is it then and who gets it?
Fibromyalgia (fi-bro-my-al-juh) is a debilitating, widespread syndrome. Nobody knows the cause or why more women are diagnosed than men. It is never found in children but shows up between the ages of 25 and 50. The pain in the musculoskeletal make up and the fatigue experienced in patients is sometimes chronic but tends to come and go, often not letting them lead a normal life. Sufferers will not become crippled and life expectancy is not reduced by this condition. It is however a life long condition.
Doctors once thought it was the early onset for one of the more severe diseases like multiple sclerosis or system lupus. However research has shown that it is unlikely for a fibromyalgia suffer to go on and develop another rheumatic or neurological condition. This said, it is possible for an MS or system lupus suffer to also have fibromyalgia.
There are no routine blood tests and nothing shows up on x-ray. The doctor will look back at your history. He will look for chronic symptoms that have lasted at least three months. He will also perform the 18-point test. This test is done on specific parts of the body, testing for tenderness and pain.
Symptoms and treatments.
There are so many, anything could almost be a symptom but amongst the worse and most common is pain around the body near joints, although it is not the joint itself that’s involved but the tissue and ligaments around the joint. Fatigue, cognitive problems, head aches, stiffness, sleep problems, irritable bowel, numbness, tingling and most sufferers have head and face pain which makes it difficult to concentrate, these are but a few.
Although there is no miracle treatment and because the nerves are involved normal painkillers do not help. There is no cure but many patients have found that acupuncture, massage, yoga and relaxation techniques help. Even some antidepressants are able to help with other illness than depression and because they can get you back into a proper sleep routine and are not addictive like sleeping tablets they will only aid in making you feel much better. If you do not get all the stages of sleep your body lacks the time to mend.
Exercise is also a very important part of feeling well for anyone but for the fibromyalgia syndrome patient’s, routine exercise is essential but be sure not to do anything that will cause unnecessary impact on your body. Walking, swimming, cycling, yoga are all perfect and above all keeping a good sense of humour and a positive out look will make everything look less bleak.