In 1986, Mary S. underwent a total hysterectomy. Immediately following surgery, her symptomatic picture exploded into excruciating muscle pain in her entire back. These symptoms were new, and help and explanations were limited.
Today, we know the diagnosis in both cases--- fibromyalgia. Despite the fact that these two athletically oriented people were in great shape, this condition showed no mercy and selected them as subjects for suffering. For those of us not afflicted, it's difficult to appreciate the intensity and constancy of this pain. Only through detailed dialogue can any of us begin to understand what these people are going through.
Fibromyalgia is a condition of the muscles. Although no one is completely sure of the cause, people involved in traumatic situations, both physical and psychological, are most prone to it. 88% of all diagnosed cases are of woman and people in their 40's. For some unexplained reason, the involved muscles don't store glycogen as well as healthy muscles, and simulate muscles undergoing extremely stressful situations. This results in extreme pain and contracture of the muscles. A medical research team from Finland has reported that the pain intensity from FMS is twice that of rheumatoid arthritis. Obviously, this can severely limit activity and future happiness.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, the 1990 criteria for diagnosis requires a history of widespread pain [minimum 3 months]. The pain pattern must include both right and left sides of the body, be located above and below the waist and also include the axial skeletal region. On digital examination, pain must be noted in at least 11 of 18 characteristic tender point sites.
The condition produces a shortening and tightening of muscle fibers. Cold weather, due to it's contractive influence on a muscle, makes the symptoms worse. Likewise, warmth can make them feel better. Although activity may seem painful to the afflicted, exercise and motion are strongly encouraged, as dis-use of the muscles is the beginning of the end. Blood flow to a muscle will provide improved flexibility and reduced tightness.
Sleep deprivation is common in fibromyalgia patients, as the pain of the muscles during sleep will oftentimes cause the person to wake, never allowing them to fully reach the deep sleep level that is critical for an enjoyable life. This also reduces normal recovery of the body.