Myopathy and Fibromyalgia


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Fibromyalgia causes a number of debilitating symptoms. These include things like chronic fatigue, mental fog, and chronic pain. But the condition primarily seems to involve the muscles. That makes fibromyalgia a form of myopathy.

A myopathy is a disease that affects the muscles. But while it seems obvious that fibromyalgia falls in this category, there lies an enduring mystery about the condition at the heart of this fact. Fibromyalgia causes pain in the muscle tissue, but the fact is that we don’t know why. But there are some interesting theories. And learning more about other forms of myopathy can help explain why fibromyalgia causes the symptoms it does. So, let’s talk about how myopathy works, how it might work in the case of fibromyalgia, and how you can treat it.

What Causes Myopathy?

There are a number of different types of diseases that affect the muscle tissue. But we can break them down into a few different categories. There are dystrophies, which affect the way the muscle tissue regenerates itself after damage. Typically, these conditions are progressive, which means over time they can destroy the ability of the heart and lungs to function.

Then there are forms of myopathy caused by the inability of the body to process nutrients and send them to the muscles. And finally, there are forms of myopathy that are caused by genetic abnormalities that affect the ability of the muscle cells to replicate.

Myopathies lead to a number of different symptoms. Generally, they cause pain or stiffness in the muscles. And they usually lead to weakness in the muscles that can make moving difficult.

You’ll notice that fibromyalgia does seem to cause many of these symptoms, but doesn’t fall into the standard categories of myopathy. And that makes it hard to say why exactly fibromyalgia causes the symptoms it does.

Why Does Fibromyalgia Cause Myopathy?

We know that fibromyalgia isn’t a progressive dystrophy and doesn’t seem to have a nutritional component the way other myopathies do. So it’s likely that the pain from fibromyalgia doesn’t actually originate in the muscles themselves.

Instead, many researchers have proposed that the issue lies in the nervous system. The basic idea behind this theory is that there is some kind of malfunction in the way the body processes pain. When your muscles are damaged, your nerves transmit signals to the brain, which perceives them as pain.

So in fibromyalgia, the nerves are sending signals to the brain even though there’s no actual damage to the muscles. The most likely explanation for this is that the brain itself is being affected. Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia have reduced blood flow to the areas of the brain that process pain. This reduced blood flow may explain why your brain doesn’t process pain correctly.

In turn, this miscommunication leads to pain and weakness in the muscles. Luckily, there are a few things you can do.

How Can You Treat It?

One of the most common reasons that people feel weakness in their muscles with fibromyalgia is actually due to a lack of physical activity. Doctors recommend exercise to people with fibromyalgia as one of the most effective ways to reduce the severity of symptoms. But the hard truth is that exercising when you have fibromyalgia is difficult.

Not only do you have to get around the pain and fatigue, but too much exercise can lead to painful “fibro flares,” where your symptoms get much worse. Add to that the fact that most people with chronic pain have enough trouble handling a daily routine that they can’t find time to exercise and you can imagine how hard that advice is to follow.

But the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to knock yourself out to get the benefits of exercise. Just thirty minutes of moderate exercise is enough for most people.

If you find that muscle weakness seems to mostly affect your legs, make sure to take a brisk walk every day. This can help strengthen the muscles in your legs. And if you find that your muscle weakness is in your arms, consider a bit of weight lifting. Start slow, with just enough weight to feel difficult. You don’t want to lift too much and risk straining your muscles.

Start with some basic arm exercises with around fifteen to twenty pounds. By doing so, you can limit the chances of triggering a fibromyalgia flare while still strengthening the muscles.

But let us know, do you suffer from muscle weakness with your fibromyalgia? What do you do about it? Tell us in the comments.