Emotion and pain: fibromyalgia
It is a diagnosis that is repeated in the doctor’s offices, and that affects mainly women.
We tell you what it is and what can be done.
The association between depression and pain has been known for some time.
Statistics estimate that between 20 and 30% of patients with depression will have episodes of pain, and up to 50% of patients with chronic pain will develop, throughout their illness, a depressive disorder, a figure that increases if, in addition , other evils are added, such as stress, panic attacks, phobias, obsessions, etc., all clinical pictures that suppose a bad handling of the anxiety.
In this context, a word has become frequent in the offices: fibromyalgia.
What are we talking about?
Fibromyalgia is one of the disorders that certifies the relationship between unpleasant emotions and pain.
It is considered a set of symptoms and signs (syndrome *), characterized by the presence of intense chronic pain (with more than 3 months of evolution), with specific points in the cervical, lumbar area and (frequently) also in the hands, knees, ankles, feet, etc.
Along with these symptoms, there are others of a psychological nature: insomnia, or non-restorative sleep, easy fatigue, loss of concentration and attention, memory failures, decreased libido (sexual interest), and a state of constant concern that it revolves around the phenomenon of pain.
People affected by the syndrome report feeling “that the muscles are twisted”, “hard as stones” or that “they are pierced by a knife”, all images that accompany the painful sensations.
The syndrome is more frequent in women, in an approximate proportion of 7 to 10 Women for every Man.
It is estimated that they suffer between 3 to 4% of the general population.
Fibromyalgia can begin after a traumatic situation of various kinds: accidents, viral infections, family conflicts, couple, work, etc.
The deep causes of Fibromyalgia are not known, although the most accepted hypothesis is the alteration of the nociceptive system, that is, the nervous system pathways that elaborate pain in our body.
This system discriminates the different stimuli (physical, temperature, wounds), and prepares us to face a situation that involves pain (such as going to the dentist).
In healthy people there is a threshold that preserves them, giving the precise -and real- tone to the unpleasant stimulus.
On the other hand, people with Fibromyalgia have a very low threshold to said stimuli, converting minimal events, without clinical implication, into bothersome and incapacitating symptoms.
With time the affectation is increasing, and the pathological interpretation of the factors coming from the environment are exacerbated, making difficult the resolution of daily problems, or making difficult the social relations: easy fatigue, catastrophic vision of the life, irritability, impatience, low esteem,
Once the nervous system is sensitized (central sensitization phenomenon), all the symptoms develop in cascade without there being, or the patient recognizes, a triggering reason.
Is there a treatment?
So far Fibromyalgia does not have a treatment to cure it, but symptoms can be alleviated, improving the quality of life.
It is a syndrome that requires a profound evaluation, both physical (clinical doctors, rheumatologists, neurologists) and psychological / psychiatric.
It is necessary to address the painful symptoms and the anomalous interpretation of them, as well as a change in the habits of life, reducing stress, and the feeling of inability to face daily life.
At present there are approved pharmacological treatments to calm the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, but its indication and posology, should always be controlled by the Rheumatologist and / or Neurologist.