When I choose a post topic, it is generally because the subject matter has been affecting me and i want to share it. There have been so many times I have felt or experienced something, only to feel as though I am the only one in the universe going through it (even if the logic side of my brain knows that isn’t true) it still feels that way. So a lot of why I am here is to share my experience with you; share my personal and sometimes painful experiences with you so you won’t feel so alone. Also, I think many of us already feel alienated and already lead such a solitary experience because the reality is, most of our friends and family don’t understand that we come here, to the internet to connect (and i mean than to more than the wifi).
While I have two more topics to cover in my on-going series about treating fibromyalgia holistically, I decided it was okay to break the monotony and discuss other things that I find relevant to our plight. So stay tuned for my next post in that series “Nutritional Supplements to Fight Fibromyalgia,” and in the meantime we pause and take a look at some of the more unusual symptoms of fibromyalgia.
5 Strange Symptoms of Fibromyalgia<br>
As I have mentioned previously, although we all share a common disease, we may not experience all the same symptoms. This is, in part, why fibromyalgia is so difficult to treat. Those of us who do experience the more unusual symptoms, it does not mean that we have a more severe case of fibromyalgia. I often tell people who don’t have an understanding of fibromyalgia that its like the brain short circuits and doesn’t understand and distinguish pain, and I think it also causes other areas to short circuit. (Of course I do not have a medical degree, just my opinion.) What follows are some of the less common symptoms of fibromyalgia.M
Allodynia is pain, generally on the skin, caused by something that wouldn’t normally cause pain. It is associated most with fibromyalgia and also chronic fatigue syndrome.
* It is also associated with neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia and migraines. There are Three forms, of which you can possess one, two or all three. In my case I have two. Tactile and Mechanical, as I will discuss.
• Tactile allodynia: as the name suggests, pain caused by touch.
• Mechanical Allodynia: this is caused by movement across the skin such as drying yourself off with a towel, or bed sheets dragging over skin or even, a fan blowing air across the skin.
• Thermal (temperature-related) Allodyinia: caused by heat or cold that is not extreme enough to cause damage to your tissues. If you do have unexplained issues of hands and feet turning blue, please see a doctor because it could be something much more dangerous.
Allodynia is believed to be a hypersensitive reaction that may result from something called central sensitization, which is why it is often associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
An abnormal sensation of the body, such as numbness, tingling or burning. It is theorized that paresthesia is a nervous response to other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A different symptom which can lead to parathesia is deep, rapid breathing, which can lead to tingling in the extremities, acroparesthesia, due to lacking carbon dioxide.
Because this is considered a type of physical response related to mental or emotional anxiety, the best treatment option for this are techniques used for stress reduction and if it can be managed, physical exercise.
Itchy hands and feet
Recently, this has been maddening to me. I will stress, however, in my case it might be a few different reasons causing this horrible itching. I can only suggest that if you think you might see similarities that you bring it up to your doctor so they can give you a thorough examination and proper tests. I have been told that you should fight for what you feel in your gut is going on.
There is so much more than symptoms looked at piecemeal and sometimes, looking at everything as though there is a relation or as a whole, things begin to make more sense. My rheumatologist looked at me and just said “You are 43 years old, you should not be falling apart like this. Did you ever think it was all connected?” Sadly, yes was the answer. The problem was finding a doctor who could see through the same lenses as I do. She believes I have an autoimmune disorder. One that is attacking my joints and my spine, including my sacroiliac joint which my surgeon wants to do a fusion on. Her treatment for me is prednisone and methotrexate. I take the methotrexate every Friday for the next four weeks and I had my first round of it this past Friday. It’s no joke. It kicked my ass and she warned me about it. It might not get any better for me, but her long term goal is injectible meds that she said will make a huge difference in my quality of life. The fibro might still be there, but the symptoms might be more manageable and I may be able to treat myself holistically again. She did make it clear that I am far too inflamed for holistic approaches to work, that I need to tackle the horrible inflammation and once it goes down manage it another way.
Now, we are going to take a look at Fibromyalgia and the itchiness associated with it and the possible reasons why we get itchy.
One of the rare symptoms of side effects that may be linked to fibromyalgia is itching. The most common symptoms of FM include extensive pain and extreme fatigue and sleep disturbance. Less common symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and frequent urination at night. Itching, and severe itching at that, is often not mentioned as a symptom or side of effect of FM because it is somewhat rare. However, if you ask me, as many women/men I have heard speak about this terrible symptom, I do not think it is all that rare. I think FM patients are not reporting it or perhaps are blaming it on something else. I actually blamed it on my sensitive skin for a long time and allergies
So why do we itch? Well, as I’ve talked about previously and will probably continue to mention it in the future, much of FM and the symptoms related to it may be a result of miscommunication within the Central Nervous System. The CNS consists of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. In those struggling with FM, there seems to be a change in the way that the CNS processes pain messages. There may be abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain called neurotransmitters. There is also a thought that the pain receptors develop a muscle memory of pain and cause them to be more sensitive and over react to pain signals.
Itching may come about because of certain nerve fibers being activated and causing those itching sensations. Itching and pain show a similar positioning in the spinal cord and also activate the same sensory areas within the brain, so it seems completely logical that someone experiencing pain, and who is sensitive to pain is also sensitive to itchiness. There is not much comfort in that statement, but it at least can put some minds at ease because I know some of you are thinking you are going crazy. I know I did.
Treatment and Side Effects
I find it a cruel irony that the treatment meant to help you can also hurt you. This is another possible reason for itchiness in FM; the treatments used to try to help you also hurt you. This is something that I have known for a long time, having a number of issues that requiring medicine therapy and quickly realizing that one med ends up being four meds, simply to combat other side effects from the medicine. I went almost three years completely off bipolar medicine, trying to detox my body from the ill side effects of the medicine. Now, I am only on one medicine, but because of FM and other structural issues in my body I am on like 5 different meds. The hydrocodone/acetaminophen I take is known for causing itching, and following are other meds that can cause itching.
• Acetaminophen- has a rare side effect of itching, rash and hives.
• Ibuprofen- one of the side effects is itching.
• Naproxen Sodium- itching is a common side effect.
• Tramadol- itching is common
• Pregabalin- itching is a rare but possible s(meeetingqndigqide effect.
• Opioids- itching is a possible side effect.
4 Ways to Battle the Itch
• Capsaicin Cream- This can be purchased over the counter or with a prescription from your doctor. It will eliminate cells from receiving the pain/itch messengers. It can burn, so be careful the first few times you use it so you know how much will be effective to slather on.
• Pain killer- I know what you are thinking, given what I just got done writing. Simply use your best judgment on what will work for you. Sometimes over the counter meds will help just as much.
• Ice- Ice will deaden the nerves so you are not feeling it and will help bring down any inflammation from itching and scratching too. You can also use a combination of heat and cold therapy.
• Anxiety medication- Many times fibromyalgia symptoms are controlled or at least abated with anti-anxiety meds. You can certainly give those a try too.
Balance Problems with Fibromyalgia
I’ve had balance issues for awhile. I chalked it up to my spinal fusion in ’09 and my hip replacement in ’10. Never did I think something else was wrong, and even before I saw my rheumatologist I started playing connect the dots and what if? What if this wasn’t a case of a whole litany of things just falling apart, but a case of each and every issue being a part of a whole and a possible different diagnosis altogether? It’s a lot to process. A lot to synthesize and the need to reign in those angry and bitter feelings when you realize that those you trust your health to fail time and again, to see the bigger picture.
As I come from a holistic approach to health, it is often with great consternation that I struggle with why those in the medical community do not see things the same way. Why can’t doctor’s look at a patient’s symptoms more holistically? I mean sure, sometimes tendonitis is just that- tendonitis, but when you have a patient presenting so many complaints, shouldn’t a doctor go deeper? Again, I try not to be angry. Doctor’s have sworn and oath to “do no harm,” and I can’t say there is ill-intent. It is my humble opinion that the medical community should be taught more about looking at the human body and illnesses through more holistic a lens, instead of just throwing pain meds or other medication at each symptom until you need more medication to combat side effects of each of those medications and before long, you are swimming in medicine that is causing more toxicity in your body.
Here are a few issues concerning balance and dizziness in fibromyalgia:
• Lightheadedness: We’ve all experienced this at one time or another. You feel faint and maybe nauseous with some paleness and clamminess. It is caused by a momentary drop in blood pressure and blood flow to the head but the dizziness often abates after lying down.
• Vertigo: Is a feeling of spinning. Vertigo occurs when there is a conflict between the signals sent to your brain by various balance-sensing systems of the body. You may feel nauseous and you may feel the need to vomit and have trouble walking and even standing and may fall.
It should be no surprise when I say that it is not clear why fibromyalgia patients have issues with balance and dizziness. It seems that much of this disease and the reasons they cannot figure out the cause and reasons behind it stems from the wise range of symptoms and no clear understanding of why they appear. And again, much like with the other varied symptoms it seems that there is some confusion or miscommunication in the brain. With the dizziness, there are trigger points in the neck and jaw that can cause a feeling of dizziness and imbalance. This may be because they affect the nerves that tell the brain where the body is in space. If these signals do not match with the signals from the eyes, this could cause dizziness and disorientation. I struggle with this symptom less so, however I have experienced and struggled with bouts of vertigo that I did not link to fibromyalgia. Here are some tips to help with dizziness and balance problems, because while the issue itself might be benign itself, it puts patients at a risk for falling which increases the possibility of injury.
• Make you home safe.Clean clutter off the ground and make sure any rugs or carpets are secured to the ground to prevent tripping and falling.
• Be certain to eat small and frequent meals. Get plenty of rest.
• When getting out of bed or changing positions, do not move to quickly. Try smooth and fluid movements and take care not to jerk your head too fast.
• Use a rubber mat in the tub or adhesive strips to keep you safe from falling.
• Use the banister when going up the stairs and a walker or cane if necessary.
Although this is not an uncommon symptom of fibromyalgia it is one that I have not read enough about and I am guessing neither has many patients struggling with FM because I am always seeing it pop up on various FM threads.
Sensory Overload can truly have a significant impact on your life. It can keep you from enjoying life and make you feel panicky, and nervous and overwhelmed. As I have said with nearly all the symptoms of FM, it is a hypersensitivity issue. This means that our bodies react strongly and sometimes too strongly, to all kinds of input. Any number of things can overload our system, such as bright light, noise, certain smells, or even an environment where there are multiple things going on vying for your attention. There seems to be a problem with the neurotransmitter, seratonin and it makes it difficult for us to filter out unneeded information. An example of this: Let’s say the phone rings and you pick it up while you have the television going on in the background and someone else in the room trying to speak to you.The brain of a fibromyalgia patient is suddenly swamped with information with no way to filter it out to focus on one task at a time.
So how does a fibromyalgia patient deal with this? Sometimes the only way is to avoid situations like these altogether, because by the time you find yourself in it, it is too difficult to narrow that scope of focus on what you want to. You are already overwhelmed. However, if you find yourself beginning to isolate yourself you may benefit from talking to a counselor, or even may want to try some medications designed to help combat anxiety. Even a combination of both might prove useful to you.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post, and you have found it informative. Stay tuned for more! As always comments and feed back are welcome.