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7 Medical Conditions Related to Fibromyalgia

Did you know that there are at least 10 million Americans living with the syndrome known as fibromyalgia? This medical condition is characterized by a complex range of symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue and sleeplessness. To make matters worse, research suggests that fibromyalgia is significantly underdiagnosed.

Could you be living with fibromyalgia? We don’t want to scare anyone, but studies have also shown that fibro patients are more likely to be living with several specific conditions. If you are living with several of these medical conditions, then you may want to talk to your doctor about fibromyalgia. Those living with this syndrome should note that they are at greater risk for these health concerns.

Woman comes down with a migraine

Fibro patients are more prone to getting migraine headaches

Migraine Headaches

Experts like Robert Duarte, MD, the director of the Pain Institute at Long Island Jewish Health System, say that a significant percentage of fibro patients suffer from migraine and/or tension headaches.

“An underlying disturbance in the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine plays a role in causing headaches and fibromyalgia,” says Duarte.

There are treatments available which can target these brain chemicals and could help relieve those migraine symptoms. Duarte also recommends biofeedback therapy for frequent tension headaches.

Autoimmune Disease

Nearly a quarter of people who have been diagnosed with an inflammatory autoimmune disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), also exhibit symptoms of fibromyalgia. Although researchers have looked into it, the exact connection still remains unclear.

We do need to clear something up before we proceed– fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disease. Clinical trials do suggest that the development of a condition like RA somehow increases your risk for this syndrome.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Woman with RLS clenching her feet at nightInsomnia and other chronic sleep issues are extremely common amongst fibro sufferers. In fact, it is this chronic fatigue that leads to many diagnosed cases. What does this have to do with restless leg syndrome? RLS causes an overwhelming urge to move your legs when sitting or lying down. It appears to be at least 11 times more common in people who have fibromyalgia.

Just like with inflammatory autoimmune disease, the link here still remains shrouded in mystery. However, several fibromyalgia treatments can be used to treat RLS symptoms and improve overall sleep quality.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

It should come as no surprise that IBS is another medical condition which is quite complex. Those living with it must content with chronic bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation, as well as painful abdominal cramping. Studies have shown that somewhere between 30 and 70% of fibro patients also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

Pelvic Pain

Many of the medications prescribed for fibromyalgia directly act against pain-related symptoms. This is beneficial as people with this syndrome also tend to report:

  • Bladder irritability
  • Pelvic pain
  • Menstrual pain and cramps

Depression and Anxiety Disorders

Another unfortunate connection with fibromyalgia tends to be emotional and mental issues, such as anxiety and depression. Granted, these are problems that many people struggle with at one point or another throughout the course of their lives. Research suggests that fibromyalgia may share some common, underlying causes.

Similar to migraine headaches, a deficit of serotonin and norepinephrine is linked to both mood and pain disorders. This is why many fibro patients are prescribed antidepressants.

Obesity

Overweight fibro patient tries to stay healthyThis is perhaps one that was unexpected for this list, but the data shows that obesity and fibromyalgia share a complex relationship. One that needs to be mentioned here.

Due to the chronic pain and fatigue related to fibromyalgia, many patients tend to adapt a much more sedentary lifestyle. This raises your risk of becoming overweight or obese overtime, especially if their diet is not significantly improved.

“Being overweight places more mechanical stress on your joints, which can cause more pain and aggravate the fibromyalgia,” says Lesley Arnold MD, a psychiatrist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Additionally, excess stores of fat are pro-inflammatory.

If you have yet to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it can be very difficult to fully comprehend. We have several more articles on fibro-related research and lifestyle tips that we highly recommend. There’s also many online sources of support available for those living with this chronic syndrome.

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