Fibromyalgia is a painful and chronic condition characterised by widespread muscular, ligament and tendon pain. Fatigue and multiple tender points on the body also accompany this condition. For patients who experience severe pain, fibromyalgia can interfere with their daily lives and can be very debilitating.
Thirty per cent of fibromyalgia patients also suffer from TMJ (temporomandibular joint ) disorders. As a result of TMJ disorder symptoms, teeth pain and unexplained toothaches can affect these patients.
A Syndrome, Not a Disease
Also called fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome, not a disease. Diseases have recognisable symptoms that have a specific root cause; syndromes are a collection of signs and other medical issues that occur together but do not have a specific cause.
Fibromyalgia sufferers can experience the painful symptoms after emotional or physical trauma, but more often, fibromyalgia symptoms occur without any triggers.
Fibromyalgia affects only 2 per cent of the American population. Women are at higher risk of developing the syndrome than men.
People who suffer from fibromyalgia often experience other health issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), TMJ disorders, which can cause teeth pain and dental problems, restless leg syndrome, depression and anxiety, fatigue and tiredness, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches and other cognitive problems. Many of these symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on the patient's stress level, level of physical activity, or even the weather.
Fibromyalgia is characterised by tender points--areas on your body in which even the slightest pressure can cause excruciating pain.
TMJ is the joint in front of your ears, which connects your lower jawbone to your skull. This joint allows you to chew, eat, talk and make facial expressions. Those with TMJ disorders often suffer from jaw tenderness, pain when they chew, joint locking, headaches and uncomfortable bite.
Teeth clenching and grinding, which are TMJ disorder causes, can result in both tooth pain and sensitivity. Patients often go to see their dentist, and sometimes undergo unnecessary major dental procedures--such as root canals and tooth extractions--to stop the pain.
This dental pain can be a result of fibromyalgia--a facial tender point.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Doctors still don't understand what exactly causes fibromyalgia, but some fibromyalgia sufferers have unusually high levels of Substance P in their spinal fluid. Substance P is a chemical that aids in the transmission of pain signals to and from your brain. Researchers believe that high levels of Substance P can amplify the pain-processing areas in the brain.
Although the cause of this condition is unknown, doctors agree that genetics may play a role. Fibromyalgia runs in some families, so there could be genetic mutations at play.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, so treatment focuses on diminishing the painful symptoms and improving sleep patterns. Medications, including painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are often prescribed to help manage pain. Exercise can also help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia sufferers can also get relief from this chronic disorder through massage, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation.