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Fibromyalgia and Chronic Headaches

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 13 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Migraines Headaches Chronic Tension

Fibromyalgia is a non-specific disease that involves pain in the muscles ligaments and tendons and occurs throughout the body. People suffering from fibromyalgia generally have muscles aches that are felt anywhere in the body and they commonly experience headaches. This can leave individuals with fibromyalgia more overwhelmed with treating the disease.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Headaches

Symptoms such as nausea, sleep disorders and exhausting fatigue further compound the discomfort. The disease affects more women than men and tends to produce chronic headaches, which are those occurring frequently and at least fifteen days in a given month. Tension and migraine headaches are the types commonly experienced by those with fibromyalgia; due to the incessant nature of fibromyalgia, it can be difficult handling the headache pain on an often daily basis. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Stiffness
  • Muscle numbness
  • Poor concentration
  • Widespread tenderness
  • Weakness
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle spasms

Individuals with fibromyalgia may sometimes experience a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). TMJD results in muscle and joint aches in the jaw and neck areas, which can lead to intense migraine headaches. In some people, TMJD can trigger teeth grinding which, when coupled with fibromyalgia, can further cause painful headaches.

Why do I Have Fibromyalgia and Headaches?

A precise cause of fibromyalgia has yet to be determined. Certain infections, other diseases or injuries may contribute or a person may have no known preceding triggers at all. Dysfunctional regulation of serotonin, a chemical found in the brain, may play a role in the intensified stimulation in fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia also demonstrates some similarities to chronic headaches in that studies have suggested there is a higher level of excitation with both. As such, your body responds more aggressively to what would normally be considered mild stimuli.

Will It Ever Get Better?

Many treatments aimed at chronic headaches are effective in handling the pain of fibromyalgia. Your doctor, in conjunction with lifestyle recommendations and pain management techniques, may prescribe muscle relaxants and anti-depressants for your headaches and other fibromyalgia symptoms. Many people feel that educating themselves about managing disease pain helps to keep the mental and emotional strain under control.

From a pharmaceutical perspective, individuals who experience fibromyalgia and chronic headaches, whether independently or not, may wish to first try treatments that target both conditions before taking separate medications. This can help to decrease the potential for side effects and tolerance issues, as well as the possibility of medication overuse.

If you can, try to find relaxation therapies to handle any depression and stress that results from both fibromyalgia and chronic headaches. Fibromyalgia sufferers are considered to be more likely to also suffer from depression so your doctor may suggest anti-depressant therapy. It is, however, recommended that you try non-medication approaches in conjunction with any drugs. By approaching your health proactively, you can hopefully attain relief of your fibromyalgia and headache pain.

A Final Word

Headaches and migraines can intensify the tired, lacklustre feeling that is characteristic in fibromyalgia, creating a greater treatment challenge. The chronic nature of the headaches can leave sufferers feeling depressed, anxious and oftentimes helpless in their hope for a respite from the pain.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia and have been putting off seeing your doctor for headache treatment, do try to make that visit now. Treatments are available and there is fortunately ongoing research that suggests promising treatments for chronic headache sufferers with fibromyalgia.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
My nephew has what appears to be fibromyalgia. You mention "promising treatments for sufferers with fibromyalgia"; any links to these or suggestions for treatment and management of the condition?
Wybee - 15-Sep-11 @ 9:03 AM
I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and for the past 3 months have been suffering with very bad headaches, neck pain, joint pain ect... and untill now i never knew you could have headaches so its helped me a lot thank you
cherry - 26-Apr-11 @ 1:51 PM
Thank you for posting this article, which is very helpful. I am a Fibromyalgia sufferer and do have the constant headaches that you mention. It definitely is my body responding more aggressively to mild stimuli. To me it feels like unnecessary anxiety over very small things or things that can be coped with. I work three to four hours maximum daily as a psychic and it causes me fatigue, depression and anxiety, not all the time. I do enjoy my work but you cannot plan anything and getting through one single day at a time is very hard. I find going for a walk helps a lot and also pacing myself. Each person has different issues and it's important to help them as much as I can which is extremely hard but I do it and often have to have two days in bed to recover from simple tasks.
Kaz72 - 6-Apr-11 @ 1:52 PM
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