What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex, chronic condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain as well as fatigue, sleep issues, memory problems, and mood disorders.

What is Fibromyalgia?
Woman lying on sofa in pain with fibromyalgia with dark clouds surrounding her and a lightning bolt coming out of the sky to her stomach

Fibromyalgia is a complex, chronic condition characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain as well as fatigue, sleep issues, memory problems, and mood disorders. So let's take a deeper into look into what these are and if there's some light, rather than lightning at the end of the tunnel.

Prevalence

Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 2-8% of the population globally, with a higher incidence in women. Onset frequently occurs between the ages of 30-50, but can affect people of any age.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is diffuse, chronic body pain lasting over 3 months.

Additional common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, lack of energy, and flu-like malaise
  • Sleep disturbances - inability to sleep deeply
  • Cognitive dysfunction - "fibro fog"
  • Anxiety, depression, and irritability
  • Headaches, TMJ pain, tingling or numbness
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, IBS
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Heightened sensitivity to odors, noises, bright lights

The severity of symptoms can fluctuate, with periodic flares triggered by physical and emotional stressors. Many patients also have overlapping disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Causes

The exact causes of fibromyalgia remain unknown. Research suggests it likely arises from a complex interplay of factors including genetics, hormones, immune system function, neurotransmitter imbalances, trauma, and stress.

It does not appear to be an autoimmune or inflammatory disorder. Instead, abnormal pain processing pathways in the central nervous system are thought to be responsible for the amplified chronic pain sensations.

Diagnosis

There are no definitive diagnostic tests for fibromyalgia, so physicians diagnose based on a patient's medical history, a physical exam, and ruling out other potential causes. Diagnostic criteria include:

  • Widespread pain lasting over 3 months not explained by other conditions
  • Pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific tender point sites on the body
  • Severity of additional symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, memory issues, mood disorders

Treatment

Integrated treatment plans are recommended, usually including exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, patient education, and lifestyle adjustments. Goals focus on managing pain, fatigue, emotional distress, and improving functioning and well-being.

Can games help?

There has been a ton of research on the use of video games for health, from tackling addictions to actually distracting people from their pain. To date, these games, wether VR, mobile or PC based have been classed as medical, so you can only get this is in the USA via your insurer via health insurance, or from a clinician.

But here's the thing, If you have pain from Fibromyalgia and have a VR headset, pop it on and play a game, any old game, and see if you get lost in it for half an hour. If you don't try a free to play game on your cellphone or PC.

Then, ask yourself an honest question, did I forget my fibro pain during that time?

Find me social media and let me know!

Some helpful links:

Fibromyalgia: Combination of treatments often required-Fibromyalgia - Symptoms & causes - Mayo Clinic
<p>This complicated disorder amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Medications, therapy and exercise can help.</p>
Fibromyalgia
Information for patients on fibromyalgia: what it is, getting diagnosed, treatment options, and tips for living with the condition.
Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.