Fibromyalgia: Common But Mysterious
If you are a regular reader of health magazines the chances are that you will have heard of fibromyalgia. This is a painful and debilitating disease which has been receiving considerable publicity lately. Why should this be? Part of the reason has to do with the fact that an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from this condition. Although fibromyalgia is becoming an increasingly common condition, the disease continues to remain shrouded in mystery and confusion.
One of the reasons why fibromyalgia remains
misunderstood is because diagnosis is extremely difficult. Often it can take several years before the average fibromyalgia patient receives an accurate diagnosis. One reason for this difficulty is that the symptoms of fibromyalgia often resemble those of other forms of arthritis. Also, in the past doctors were not as well educated about the disease as they are today. An added complication is that there is no one diagnostic test that can determine whether a person has fibromyalgia. So you can see that fibromyalgia can be a difficult disease to diagnose and treat precisely because its causes are so mysterious.
As mentioned above, doctors and researchers are still unsure about the cause of fibromyalgia. Health professionals have suggested a number of possible causes. Some doctors have made a connection between fibromyalgia and the loss of estrogen that women experience during the menopause. Many health professionals accept this theory because statistics show that the majority of fibromyalgia sufferers are women between the ages of 40 and 55. Research is currently being undertaken to determine whether there is a direct link between the loss of estrogen and the onset of fibromyalgia.
Another possible cause for fibromyalgia may be related to a deficiency in certain chemicals, namely serotonin. Research has shown that fibromyalgia sufferers often experience low levels of serotonin and experience difficulty in sleeping. Serotonin is a chemical that is produced naturally in the body. It is responsible for regulating sleep, appetite, sexual desire, and mood. Depression has also been linked to fibromyalgia. Some researchers believe there is a link between serotonin, depression, and fibromyalgia. However, others think that depression alone causes changes in the patient's brain chemistry. This in turn causes the brain to release chemicals that induce pain and cause the onset of fibromyalgia.
Other doctors speculate that fibromyalgia is a result of injury or illness. Some cases of fibromyalgia have been linked to individuals who suffered some form of back injury. Others have been linked to cases of severe influenza, and even Lyme disease. While there is no clear evidence that injury or illness can cause fibromyalgia, many researchers still suspect some kind of indirect link. Stress may also be a factor in this mysterious disease. Many health professionals suspect that stress may be a major contributing factor to the onset of fibromyalgia. Even if stress is not directly involved, most fibromyalgia patients agree that the disease is most apparent at times of stress. Symptoms appear to worsen during moments of increased stress, and then retreat as the stress is reduced.
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