Among all the medical conditions out there, fibromyalgia is definitely one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood ones.
Frequently ignored completely and dismissed as not a syndrome in its own “right”, fibromyalgia is one of those medical conditions that is still not understood – not even by the most well-known medical researchers in the world.
We do understand the fact that over 5 million Americans have to go through the pain and through the life-changing symptoms of fibromyalgia on a daily basis.
There is no cure for this syndrome and the only way people can live their lives is by managing their own symptoms as well as possible. However, there are still too many patients for whom fibromyalgia has changed their lives dramatically.
Fibromyalgia and the Explanations We Got
The harsh truth about fibromyalgia is that we don’t even know how to define it. Of course, it is a syndrome, which means that it is a collection of symptoms – but they can vary so greatly and they can be so different from one person to the other than it is really impossible to put your finger on what fibromyalgia is.
The most common and poignant symptom experienced by people with fibromyalgia is widespread pain. Beyond that, there are a myriad of symptoms that arise, that can be inter-connected and that are sometimes even considered to be causes and risk factors for this syndrome.
On top of everything, most of them (grouped in certain ways) are common to other medical conditions that may be co-morbid with fibromyalgia.
Sleeping issues, bladder issues (and generally speaking urinary issues), the irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, fatigue, muscle spasms, tingling and numbness, waking up stiff, nerve pain, memory problems, low attention span, depression anxiety – these are just some of the symptoms that very frequently get associated with fibromyalgia (but also to other medical conditions fibromyalgia is commonly mistaken with or co-morbid with).
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
There is no clear answer to this question. In addition to the fact that fibromyalgia is quite hard to diagnose (as it will be explained further on) this syndrome’s causes are completely unknown.
Some have theorized that fibromyalgia is caused by the fact that the nerve “sensors” in the brain and in the central nervous system are too sensitive to pain, which makes patients feel pain at higher levels than it would be normal.
Even more, other scientists believe that fibromyalgia is caused primarily by genetic factors. According to them, there is a very high occurrence of fibromyalgia appearing to multiple members of one’s family.
This theory adopts the belief that there is a strong connection between certain polymorphic genes in the human body and the reason fibromyalgia develops but they also admit that the same genes are connected with many other fibromyalgia-related conditions (e.g. the chronic fatigue syndrome).
Other people believe that psychological factors and depression are at the very core of finding out why fibromyalgia develops. According to them, the high rate of co-morbidity between fibromyalgia and depression is not accidental and the latter may be the real cause leading to the first.
Bad sleeping patterns could also be one of the causes that lead to the development of this syndrome. According to the researchers adopting this idea, bad sleep can turn your whole body upside down and it can make you feel pain at higher levels. Consequently, you will enter a vicious circle where pain and poor sleeping are permanently connected to each other, not leaving you with any way out.
Why Do Fibromyalgia Patients Experience Neck Pain?
Pain is, as mentioned, the most common and the most powerful symptom experienced by fibromyalgia patients. Doctors explain the pain in this area as the result of the “activation” of a tender point localized precisely on the neck.
There may be other causes leading to neck pain in the case of fibromyalgia as well. For instance, sleeping badly could also mean an erroneous position which can cause the muscles on your neck to strain (and which will consequently lead to pain as well).
Also, do keep in mind that it is quite likely that you develop headaches and shoulder pain as the result of your neck pain too. Very frequently, the pain in the neck is very much connected to the areas around it so you may experience pain around your neck too.
What to Do About the Neck Pain?
Fibromyalgia cannot be cured (in fact, the main reason it cannot be cured is related to the fact that we don’t know its cause). It can be managed however – and this is precisely what the millions of fibromyalgia patients do on a daily basis.
If neck pain is one of the symptoms you experience with fibromyalgia, there are certain things you can do. Here are some of them:
1- Pain medication. Over the counter pain medication could work in the case of neck pain, but do make sure not to abuse it because even the most basic aspirin or ibuprofen can make your body develop resistance to using them.
2- Gentle massages. Gently massaging your neck can really work like a miracle on how you will feel so do not hesitate to ask someone to do it (or to attend professional massage therapy, for that matter).
3- Many people are still very much skeptical about the Eastern practices we’ve borrowed, but their numbers are slowly decreasing. There are many patients who believe acupuncture has helped them and if you believe it could be a good complementary therapy for you too, make sure to find a practitioner that is authorized.
4- Again, this may feel silly for some, but Yoga can go a long way when it comes to ameliorating pain in different areas of the body. Since most of the Yoga poses are based on good stretches, they can really release the tension in the muscles and they can help you get rid of the pain. However, keep in mind that you should be practicing this under the supervision of an instructor who knows how to deal with people who suffer from chronic pain.