According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, fibromyalgia is a condition that affects at least 10 million people in the United States. Although it’s most common in women, men and children can experience painful fibromyalgia symptoms too.
Individuals experience fibromyalgia pain in many different parts of the body, including the head and neck regions.
Therefore, this article will explore the connection between fibromyalgia and headaches and how this type of fibromyalgia pain feels and is often triggered. With a better understanding of these types of fibromyalgia symptoms, sufferers can better manage and treat recurring and persistent headaches.
Common Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Pain is the most common of the various fibromyalgia symptoms, but this pain is felt differently in different people. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that often involves widespread pain that radiates through the muscles, joints, and tissues. This pain often occurs in the back, neck, shoulders, hips, arms, and legs. It is often described as throbbing, aching, and shooting sensations in these regions. In addition to fibromyalgia pain, other common symptoms of this condition are fatigue, memory and concentration problems, muscle cramps, numbness in the hands and feet, and headaches.
Why Fibromyalgia Pain Occurs
Doctors and researchers have yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to what causes fibromyalgia symptoms, but there are strong connections between this condition and how the brain processes and perceives pain. Certain things can trigger fibromyalgia pain to begin, such as a traumatic event, repetitive injuries, autoimmune disease, and disorders of the central nervous system. Genetics may play a role because fibromyalgia pain tends to run in families, while some illnesses and infections are known to trigger it as well.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia Headaches
According to the Migraine Treatment Centers of America, more than half of individuals with fibromyalgia have chronic and debilitating headaches too. Other statistics report that as many as 76 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers have chronic headaches too. This is likely due to the fact that both fibromyalgia and headaches are connected to how the brain processes pain and how the body’s nervous system reacts to stimuli. Therefore, even a very slight malfunction in the brain or nervous system can potentially trigger both conditions at or around the same time.
Fortunately, many of the treatments for headaches can help fibromyalgia sufferers and vice versa. Fibromyalgia headaches may also be relieved by engaging in regular exercise to help relieve stress and allow more oxygen to flow through the blood vessels so that pain sensors aren’t triggered. Good exercises for fibromyalgia and headache sufferers include yoga, walking, and swimming.
For severe fibromyalgia headaches, doctors may suggest prescription medications or preventative medications, such as beta blockers or antidepressants. Natural preventative strategies, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and seeing a chiropractor, may also help to manage pain felt in the head and throughout the rest of the body too. Pay attention to foods consumed and aim to avoid foods that trigger headaches as much as possible. Since stress is a major trigger for fibromyalgia symptoms and headaches, effectively managing stress through therapy, meditation, or simply scaling back one’s daily obligations can go a long way in helping fibromyalgia sufferers feel healthy and free of pain.