If you are one of the 10 million Americans that suffers from fibromyalgia, you are probably familiar with the more common symptoms. These include widespread pain, tender points, fatigue, sleep issues and cognitive problems. You may even know about some of the less common symptoms. These include irritable bowel syndrome, overactive bladder, pelvic pain, depression, and chronic headache.
In more than half of all fibromyalgia sufferers, one of the accompanying symptoms is headaches. These may range from tension headaches to migraines. Almost 36 percent of fibromyalgia patients also experience intensely painful migraine headaches.
Fibromyalgia Headache Causes
Many medical experts believe that the mechanism of fibromyalgia is strongly related to the one behind chronic headaches. One study found that 42 percent of chronic headache sufferers also had tender points like fibromyalgia patients. Some suggest that both health conditions may be related to over-excitation of the nervous system, producing extreme sensitivity to stimuli. There is some evidence that this is a result of abnormal levels of serotonin and substance P, neurochemicals that regulate pain sensitivity.
Fibromyalgia Headache Symptoms
Unfortunately, this heightened sensitivity to pain makes fibromyalgia headaches extremely unpleasant. These headaches often present with the following symptoms:
- Sharp, pulsing pain
- Pain localized to one side of the head or penetrating the eye
- Pain that spreads to the neck and shoulders
- Pain that intensifies around head and neck tender points
- Loss of balance
- Sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells
All fibromyalgia patients experience headaches differently, so you should record your symptoms, pattern of onset, and any preceding triggers so you may discuss them with your doctor.
Fibromyalgia headaches may also appear in the form of migraines. Migraines are more related to circulatory issues rather than muscle tension, and these headaches are often chronic and debilitating. Migraine headaches also are accompanied by severe fatigue, joint stiffness, tingling sensations and sleep difficulties. Many migraineurs may also struggle with intense depression.
Fibromyalgia Headache Treatments
Begin a Fitness Regimen
If you have discussed your fibromyalgia headaches with your physician, then you know that it is very difficult to treat this condition. The most appropriate strategy to reduce the frequency and intensity of fibromyalgia headaches is to institute some lifestyle changes. If you are not already engaged in a fitness regimen, you should start immediately. Not only will regular exercise help you feel better emotionally and physically, but it will reduce the stress in your life, a common trigger for fibromyalgia headaches and other symptoms.
Reduce Your Stress
Another important strategy is to limit the amount of stress in your life. You may work with a cognitive behavioral specialist to help identify the most common stress triggers in your life and develop mental responses that minimize stress production. Many people also engage in yoga or meditation to promote emotional harmony.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Many people who suffer from fibromyalgia headaches also experience a reduction in symptoms following acupuncture or acupressure sessions. These alternative therapies promote the production of natural pain killers, and many fibromyalgia sufferers are fervent supporters. Some patients use these therapies alone, while others combine them with medication treatments.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
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