Most people with fibromyalgia experience different types of pain sensations. The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be many, but the most prominent is chronic pain. The type, level and location of the pain is what is unique to fibromyalgia itself.
You often hear me say that fibromyalgia affects multiple systems of the body, and it can also bring various types of pain. This is good for those on the inside and the outside of fibromyalgia to understand.
Even if you experience pain that is related to a different medical condition, you can receive a fibromyalgia diagnosis if you have symptoms that meet this list of criteria. The pain rated for the index is generalized pain experienced throughout the body, which is the hallmark sign of fibromyalgia.
(You can later refer to our diagnosis article at bottom of this article)
Pain Sensations in Fibromyalgia
What exactly does a fibromyalgia body feel when it comes to pain, both internally or externally?
The most common pain sensations include stabbing, burning, cramping, radiating, intense soreness, tenderized, shaking, throbbing, aching, pulling, and heightened sensitivity pain which can occur anywhere around the body. Yes, a heightened and overactive nervous system can easily produce pain in the body.
When I talk about migraine headaches for example, I often say that this is one of the more debilitating areas of pain because this is the area where we think, interact, and express ourselves to the world around us. Try studying or working with a chronic migraine. It is a big challenge. This area can also affect the eyes, proper vision, TMJ, sinus pain, ear pain, and even pull on the muscles around the face, possibly affecting your appearance.
Painful After-Sensations in Fibromyalgia
What makes fibromyalgia unique is the various pain sensations that can occur at any given time.
After-sensations are perceptions of pain that linger after the source of pain has stopped. In a study printed in The Journal of Pain in 2017, researchers found that fibromyalgia patients experienced greater pain sensations 15 seconds after painful stimuli than healthy people without fibromyalgia. The participants with fibromyalgia also registered the pain faster than most other participants.
But wait you say. ONLY 15 seconds? I know, that is a study we cited here, but what I often say is that when the fibro body is heightened or over stimulated through any stimuli or response, it can take an extended amount of time to regulate that stress/pain back down.
This study also found differences in activity within the medial temporal lobe of the fibromyalgia sufferers, which gives some insight into the potential origin of fibro pain sensations. More research is needed to determine why fibromyalgia patients experience pain faster and longer than most other people, but the study reveals a lot about the lingering pain often felt by those diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Differences in brain functionality may be at least partially to blame.
Brain Inflammation & Fibromyalgia Pain
Inflammation in the brain has long been suspected in both fibromyalgia pain and CFS/ME, so researchers started studying spinal cavity fluid to test for signs of inflammation. This fluid circulates between the spinal cord and the brain, so markers of inflammation are solid evidence of inflammation in the brain.
This research has proven that fluid taken from fibromyalgia patients does in fact have more inflammatory markers. This means that the widespread pain experienced by fibro patients may be at least partially the result of neuroinflammation.
I can personally attest to this, and will be sharing some new information in the future about how my living with, and working with fibromyalgia and each of its primary co-conditions became a lesson in various therapies and procedures that should not be considered for those of us with fibromyalgia.
Outside the Boundaries of Known Pain Types
There are two main medically recognized types of pain: nociceptive and neuropathic. Nociceptive pain is caused by stimuli from the surrounding environment that is reported to the brain as an injury in need of repair. Neuropathic pain comes from within that internal reporting system itself. Diabetic neuropathy is an example of this second type of pain.
The problem with fibromyalgia pain is that it doesn’t always fit easily into any of these categories. As I stated in the beginning of this article, there can be so many pain sensations in fibromyalgia, and they can be coming from various systems of the body. You might be experiencing over active nerves which cause you to feel shaky, but that in turn might spur on irritable bowel symptoms which cause cramping and aching pains in the abdomen.
It’s even possible that the root cause is different for various groups of people, which could lead to multiple diagnoses or types of fibromyalgia in the future. I often talk about how symptoms started for me at age 9, right after mercury amalgam poisoning. It might be heavy metals for many people, and viral activity for others. It might be rooted in trauma that extends from generations before.
Treating Fibromyalgia Pain
Here at living smarter with fibromyalgia, we believe in treating the “whole person”. When talking to anyone with fibromyalgia, I know that their main concern often lies in the future and how they will cope and manage this condition while aging. That is common, and you are not alone. That is exactly why we do this.
You are at the right place, especially if you don’t want to rely on long term prescription medication that comes with a risk of many side effects. At the same time, this doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many people have created more good days by following our protocols even if they were still on medication. Treating fibromyalgia and all of its complexity is about not only getting to those root causes but as we like to say here “eating that fibro elephant ONE bite at a time” Lisa. CT. PT.