Fibromyalgia is a pain disorder, with symptoms ranging from muscle pain and numbness in the extremities to sleep disorders. Inflammation and the body’s reaction to stress through the complex interactions between the brain and other organs play a role in fibromyalgia. It can be difficult to avoid the tensions that modern life throws at us, but certainly there are many things that we have control over that can help alleviate the symptoms of this condition, including lifestyle habits and diet.
Abuse is the main cause of fibromyalgia
There is no single or simple answer why abuse or emotional distress can trigger fibromyalgia. Emotional stress can weaken your ability to protect yourself from various chronic pain conditions, such as FMS. It is also believed that there is a link between emotional trauma, insomnia, headaches, pain and other symptoms.Victimization at a young age can have a serious long-term impact.
It seems that emotional abuse has been taken less seriously than physical abuse, since it has no external signs, such as bruises or broken bones. However, the highest instances of emotional abuse, especially in childhood, but also in adulthood, associated with people who have fibromyalgia indicate the need to be aware of the possibility of developing fibromyalgia.
Traumatic experiences and stress in childhood have historically been overlooked as predisposing factors in the development of various chronic pain disorders and psychiatric disorders, including fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress disorder post-traumatic and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, the tide is changing as the research reveals a significant correlation between childhood trauma and adult health.
The central nervous system develops rapidly during childhood and is conditioned to respond to various stress stimuli found in life. As a variety of environmental stimuli are found, new pathways are created between brain cells in response to each stimulus.
For example, a pleasant experience, like a hug from a father or a sweet food creates ways that teach the brain to respond with pleasure to those stimuli. In the same way, a frightening experience will create and exercise pathways that respond with fear.
This process of creating new pathways in response to stimuli is called neuroplasticity. As we age, neuronal plasticity decreases, which means that it is more difficult to develop new pathways and adjust the brain’s responses to stimuli. Children have a clear advantage of having a high degree of neuronal plasticity.
However, this also highlights the importance of delivering significant stimuli to the developing brain, to ensure the development of positive pathways.
Traumatic experiences that are related to fibromyalgia include:
- << Accident
- << The emotional trauma
- << Certain viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV
- << A separation in the childhood of his mother and that lasted more than 6 months.
- << life through a war.
According to studies, approximately 30-40 percent of adults have suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse at some time during their childhood. Other studies suggest that the actual statistics can be much higher and reported. Several studies have examined the role of sexual abuse and fibromyalgia specifically, and the results are surprising. In several studies, about 65 percent of women with fibromyalgia reported sexual abuse.
Although researchers do not know exactly how or why childhood abuse is linked to fibromyalgia, it is important to consider the role of abuse in the measures taken to cure and control the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Much of the research on abuse and fibromyalgia has emerged in the last 5-10 years. This means that there is little evidence that pinches down how the abuse can influence the symptoms of fibromyalgia in the future.
A 1995 study conducted by McGill University in Canada found that in a group of 83 women with fibromyalgia and 161 women in the control group, 37 percent of the women in the fibromyalgia group had experienced sexual abuse in childhood.
Only 22 percent of women in the control group reported sexual abuse in childhood. Women in the fibromyalgia group also reported higher levels of physical abuse (18 percent vs. 4 percent), drug abuse (16 percent versus 3 percent), and lifelong sexual abuse ( 17 percent vs. 6 percent).
Of particular interest is a study conducted in Birmingham, Alabama, suggesting that people with fibromyalgia were statistically more likely to have had a history of past sexual or physical abuse, although other studies seemed to disprove these results.
The results of a study published by the American College of Rheumatology in its journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that 65% of patients with fibromyalgia reported sexual abuse in the past, compared to 52% of healthy control participants. This study found that patients with fibromyalgia with a history of abuse reported more symptoms than patients with fibromyalgia did not have those childhood backgrounds.
The researchers considered that the study showed that only a history of abuse caused a greater severity of symptoms of fibromyalgia, although such abuse does not seem to be the cause of the syndrome itself.
Patients with fibromyalgia with a history of such abuse in the past would do well to discuss this with their service providers. Therapy is always recommended as a remedy for abuse, and patients with fibromyalgia are no exception to the rule. No one can say for sure, but it makes sense that facing the consequences of such abuse can only help patients with fibromyalgia obtain a better quality of life.
The recommended treatment
Recommended treatments include counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, post-traumatic stress disorder therapies and antidepressant medications such as Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Effexor (venlafaxine).
Above all, when caring for someone who has pain without transparent tissue pathology or who has recognized intensified emotional pain processing, reassure the person that the pain experience is not in their head, but rather in their nervous system.
- Is fibromyalgia caused by childhood trauma? By Pat Anson, Editor through Pain News Network
- Sexual Abuse through the question of symptoms of fibromyalgia
For support and discussion join the group “Living with fibromyalgia and chronic diseases”
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