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What is fibromyalgia? Can acupuncture help?



Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive issues such as memory and concentration problems, often referred to as "fibro fog." This complex disorder affects millions of people worldwide, and its exact cause remains unknown. However, researchers believe it may be related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain, which can be felt throughout the body, including the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The pain may be described as a dull ache, a burning sensation, or sharp and stabbing pains. Other common symptoms include:

Fatigue: Many individuals with fibromyalgia experience debilitating fatigue that can interfere with daily activities.

Sleep disturbances: Sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea are common in people with fibromyalgia.

Cognitive issues: "Fibro fog" includes problems with memory, concentration, and attention.

Mood disorders: Anxiety and depression are more prevalent in individuals with fibromyalgia.

Other symptoms: Some people may experience headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development:

Genetics: Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component.

Infections: Certain infections, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, have been associated with fibromyalgia.

Physical or emotional trauma: Injury, surgery, or significant emotional stress can trigger the onset of fibromyalgia.

Central nervous system issues: Altered processing of pain signals in the brain and spinal cord may play a role.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be challenging because its symptoms overlap with other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Typically, doctors rely on a combination of the following to make a diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected. Acupuncture can help reduce pain and other symptoms.

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