Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by generalized musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue and problems with sleep, memory, and mood. Researchers believe that fibroids amplify sensations of pain by affecting the way the brain processes pain signals.
Occasionally, symptoms begin after significant physical trauma, surgery, infection, or psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually build up over time, without a triggering event.
Women are more prone to fibroids than men. Many people with fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression.
While there is no cure for fibroids, there are several medications that can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation, and stress reduction measures may also help.
Some of the symptoms of fibroids are:
- Generalized pain. The pain associated with fibroids is often described as a mild, bothersome, constant pain that lasts for at least three months. For it to be considered generalized, pain must occur on both sides of the body, and above and below the waist.
- Fatigue. People with fibroids often wake up tired, although they report getting plenty of sleep. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many fibroids patients have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties. A symptom impairs focusing, attention, and mental concentration.
Fibroids often coexists with other painful conditions, such as the following:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Migraine and other headaches
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
Doctors do not know the cause of fibroids, but it is very likely related to several factors acting together. These may be:
- Genetics. Because fibroids are usually hereditary, there may be certain genetic mutations that probably make you more vulnerable to this disorder.
- Infections. Some diseases seem to cause or aggravate fibroids.
- Physical or emotional trauma. Sometimes fibroids can be triggered by physical trauma, such as a car accident. Psychological stress can also trigger the condition.
Why does it hurt?
Researchers believe that repeated nerve stimulation causes changes in the brains of people with fibroids. This change is related to an abnormal increase in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that transmit pain signals (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors appear to develop a kind of pain memory and become more sensitive, meaning that they may react disproportionately to pain signals.