Navigating Through Fibromyalgia Nerve Pain: A Comprehensive Relief Guide

Table of contents

Navigating Through Fibromyalgia Nerve Pain: A Comprehensive Relief Guide

Struggling with fibromyalgia nerve pain is an all-too-common dilemma for many. The pain is more than discomfort; it’s a daily challenge affecting the quality of life.

This article directly addresses what causes fibromyalgia nerve pain, the link to neuropathy, and what it feels like. We'll also cover how it is diagnosed and explore how to treat such chronic nerve pain.

What causes fibromyalgia nerve pain?

Fibromyalgia nerve pain mainly results from central sensitization. This is when the nervous system has become overprotective and responds to stimuli such as touch or temperature with pain1. It is orchestrated by the central nervous system – specifically the brain and spinal cord.

The pain is real, but arises from the body's protective mechanisms rather than physical damage. It's like the body's system for feeling pain is stuck on the "extremely sensitive" setting, so even a light touch can feel strong and painful.

Understanding risk factors & family history

Why are certain individuals more susceptible to fibromyalgia than others? Evidence from research indicates that there may be genetic factors associated with fibromyalgia2. Several factors can influence the likelihood of fibromyalgia.

  • Family history: Those with a close family member living with fibromyalgia have an 8.5% increased risk of developing the condition themselves than relatives of people with rheumatoid arthritis3
  • Environmental influences: Environmental factors, such as infection, can act as triggers for the onset of fibromyalgia, especially for people who are genetically predisposed4
  • Stressful experiences: Psychological stress is also recognized as a contributing factor in triggering fibromyalgia and counts as a type of environmental factor5.

Research into epigenetics is uncovering how gene expression variations in those with fibromyalgia may be affected by a combination of environmental influences and family medical histories4. Additional risk factors identified for this condition include:

  • experiencing hormonal changes
  • the presence of autoimmune diseases
  • enduring repetitive physical injuries or trauma
  • obesity.

What does fibromyalgia nerve pain feel like?

The nerve pain of fibromyalgia is typified by a chronic pain, often intense and dull that lingers for three months or more, affecting both sides of the body.

Those affected frequently describe it as a burning or sharp, stabbing discomfort. Accompanying these sensations are numbness, tingling, and a heightened response to environmental stimuli that both conditions share.

Is fibromyalgia linked to neuropathy?

Although the connection between fibromyalgia and neuropathy is quite intricate, both conditions involve disruptions in how your nervous system works. If you have fibromyalgia, this means your nervous system is extra sensitive, and you might feel pain much more than others would.

When we talk about neuropathic pain in fibromyalgia, we're looking at different ways you might feel pain because of damage to your nerves. You might notice:

  • pain that doesn't seem to come from any specific injury or event
  • numb areas on your skin
  • a tingling or burning feeling
  • being sensitive to touch or to changes in temperature.

Some recent studies have found that 30-50% of people with fibromyalgia have signs that are similar to what we see in small fiber neuropathy6. This suggests that there's a strong link between the nerve issues in both conditions.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia-related nerve pain

Identifying fibromyalgia and its characteristic widespread nerve pain involves more than conventional medical examinations, such as lab tests or scans.

A comprehensive review of persistent, chronic widespread pain, checking for specific tender points on the body, and consideration of the patient's reported symptoms play a critical role.

The American College of Rheumatology's initial diagnostic guidelines from 2010 emphasize that these symptoms must be present for at least three months without interruption.

Fibromyalgia used to be diagnosed by checking for pain in the various tender points. However, that method is hit and miss because it’s hard to standardize the pressure or type of touch applied. This means that different doctors get different results, and some cases of fibromyalgia can slip through the cracks.

Recognizing these issues, the American College of Rheumatology decided it was time for a change in 2019. They rolled out new guidelines that take a broader look at fibromyalgia, beyond just those tender spots, to better capture the full scope of what patients go through7. This includes widespread pain, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, stomach troubles, mood disturbances, brain fog and any of the other many varied fibromyalgia symptoms that people can experience.

How to treat fibromyalgia nerve pain

Addressing chronic nerve pain associated with fibromyalgia often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. It is most effective to tackle the condition using an integrated method that combines modifications in lifestyle along with psychological counseling and medication as a supplementary tool.

Retraining your pain

Retraining your pain response system can be multifaceted and complex. This endeavor requires identifying the precursors of your pain, such as specific stressors or entrenched thought patterns and behaviors. Once these catalysts are pinpointed, you can adapt or utilize neuroplasticity-based strategies to reshape your brain's reaction to these stimuli.

Dedication to this method through regular practice can gradually reform the way your brain interprets pain signals. This is a long-term commitment with long-term benefit, but it needs consistency and resilience, the payoff of diminished levels of pain and other symptoms is a compelling incentive.

Stress management

Stress plays a significant role in exacerbating fibromyalgia symptoms, acting like fuel to the fire of pain sensations in the body. While it's unrealistic to live a life completely devoid of stress, it's entirely possible to learn techniques to manage it effectively. Practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, and various relaxation techniques can help reduce the impact stress has on your body.

Having a network of friends, therapists, or a supportive community can also play a crucial role in coping with fibromyalgia. This type of support acts as a comforting buffer, providing a sense of security and emotional relief during peak times of stress. Remember, managing fibromyalgia is not a solitary journey, and there's strength in seeking and accepting support from others.

Medication strategies

While medication can be a part of your comprehensive pain-management plan, it's important not to rely on it as the primary treatment. Medication should be seen as a tool that enables you to engage in other effective pain management strategies to improve your condition. These strategies may include education, lifestyle adjustments, and psychological support.

Common medications prescribed for fibromyalgia nerve pain include:

  • over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline and duloxetine, which can help manage pain and improve mood
  • pain and inflammation modulators such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • anti-seizure medications such as pregabalin and gabapentin can help regulate the over-sensitized nervous system.

Your doctor is the best person to speak to about which medication or pain relievers may be suitable for your individual situation.

Physical therapy & exercise

Physical activity and therapy are cornerstones in managing fibromyalgia. Routine participation in aerobic and strength exercises can greatly reduce pain and help combat feelings of depression. This natural method of pain relief can boost mood and energy levels while easing discomfort.

It doesn't have to be formal exercise, and you shouldn't rush into anything intense without guidance. Gentle movement that you enjoy and gradually increase is what you want. A physical therapist's knowledge is invaluable in helping individuals start their exercise journey safely, incorporating elements such as:

  • educational information about the condition
  • manual therapy techniques
  • aquatic exercises
  • home-based stretching and relaxation practices.

Striking a balance between an active lifestyle and not pushing too hard is key.

Complementary therapies for nerve pain relief

Exploring alternative therapies can be a significant asset in the battle against fibromyalgia and the nerve pain it brings. Engaging in practices with roots in Eastern healing traditions, such as tai chi, qigong, and restorative yoga, can offer symptom relief and supplement to your overall pain management plan8,9.

Importance of quality sleep

Sleep plays a crucial role in managing fibromyalgia symptoms, forming a vital component of self-care strategies for pain reduction. The interplay between fibromyalgia symptoms and sleep quality creates a challenging cycle, where poor sleep exacerbates symptoms, and symptoms cause sleep disturbances.

Improving your sleeping patterns can help alleviate many fibromyalgia symptoms, including associated chest pain. Tips for improving your sleeping patterns include:

  • Establish a consistent sleep routine with fixed sleep and wake times, aiming for eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Limit daytime naps to short durations to avoid disrupting nighttime sleep patterns, ensuring they remain refreshing power naps.
  • Engage in physical activity during the day to promote better sleep onset.
  • Reduce screen time before bed to create a conducive environment for restful sleep.
  • Create a dark, quiet sleep environment to support uninterrupted sleep.
  • Moderate caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening, can linger in the body for hours and interfere with sleep.
  • Avoid consuming large meals and alcohol close to bedtime to improve sleep quality.
  • Incorporate various forms of rest for the heart, body, and mind to complement sleep hygiene practices and manage fibromyalgia symptoms effectively.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall well-being.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.

  1. Siracusa R, Paola RD, Cuzzocrea S, Impellizzeri D. Fibromyalgia: Pathogenesis, Mechanisms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options Update. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 9;22(8):3891. doi: 10.3390/ijms22083891. PMID: 33918736; PMCID: PMC8068842. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33918736/
  2. Park DJ, Lee SS. New insights into the genetics of fibromyalgia. Korean J Intern Med. 2017 Nov;32(6):984-995. doi: 10.3904/kjim.2016.207. Epub 2017 Oct 23. PMID: 29056037; PMCID: PMC5668398. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5668398/
  3. Arnold LM, Hudson JI, Hess EV, Ware AE, Fritz DA, Auchenbach MB, Starck LO, Keck PE Jr. Family study of fibromyalgia. Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Mar;50(3):944-52. doi: 10.1002/art.20042. PMID: 15022338. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15022338/
  4. D'Agnelli S, Arendt-Nielsen L, Gerra MC, Zatorri K, Boggiani L, Baciarello M, Bignami E. Fibromyalgia: Genetics and epigenetics insights may provide the basis for the development of diagnostic biomarkers. Mol Pain. 2019 Jan-Dec;15:1744806918819944. doi: 10.1177/1744806918819944. Epub 2018 Nov 29. PMID: 30486733; PMCID: PMC6322092. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6322092/
  5. Gupta A, Silman AJ. Psychological stress and fibromyalgia: a review of the evidence suggesting a neuroendocrine link. Arthritis Res Ther. 2004;6(3):98-106. doi: 10.1186/ar1176. Epub 2004 Apr 7. PMID: 15142258; PMCID: PMC416451. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC416451/
  6. Lodahl M, Treister R, Oaklander AL. Specific symptoms may discriminate between fibromyalgia patients with vs without objective test evidence of small-fiber polyneuropathy. Pain Rep. 2017 Dec 16;3(1):e633. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000633. PMID: 29430562; PMCID: PMC5802321. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5802321/
  7. Galvez-Sánchez CM, Reyes Del Paso GA. Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia: Critical Review and Future Perspectives. J Clin Med. 2020 Apr 23;9(4):1219. doi: 10.3390/jcm9041219. PMID: 32340369; PMCID: PMC7230253. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230253/
  8. Massage therapy for health. (n.d.). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/massage-therapy-for-health
  9. Wang C, Schmid CH, Rones R, Kalish R, Yinh J, Goldenberg DL, Lee Y, McAlindon T. A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia. N Engl J Med. 2010 Aug 19;363(8):743-54. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0912611. PMID: 20818876; PMCID: PMC3023168. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023168/

Navigating Through Fibromyalgia Nerve Pain: A Comprehensive Relief Guide

Table of contents

Navigating Through Fibromyalgia Nerve Pain: A Comprehensive Relief Guide

Struggling with fibromyalgia nerve pain is an all-too-common dilemma for many. The pain is more than discomfort; it’s a daily challenge affecting the quality of life.

This article directly addresses what causes fibromyalgia nerve pain, the link to neuropathy, and what it feels like. We'll also cover how it is diagnosed and explore how to treat such chronic nerve pain.

What causes fibromyalgia nerve pain?

Fibromyalgia nerve pain mainly results from central sensitization. This is when the nervous system has become overprotective and responds to stimuli such as touch or temperature with pain1. It is orchestrated by the central nervous system – specifically the brain and spinal cord.

The pain is real, but arises from the body's protective mechanisms rather than physical damage. It's like the body's system for feeling pain is stuck on the "extremely sensitive" setting, so even a light touch can feel strong and painful.

Understanding risk factors & family history

Why are certain individuals more susceptible to fibromyalgia than others? Evidence from research indicates that there may be genetic factors associated with fibromyalgia2. Several factors can influence the likelihood of fibromyalgia.

  • Family history: Those with a close family member living with fibromyalgia have an 8.5% increased risk of developing the condition themselves than relatives of people with rheumatoid arthritis3
  • Environmental influences: Environmental factors, such as infection, can act as triggers for the onset of fibromyalgia, especially for people who are genetically predisposed4
  • Stressful experiences: Psychological stress is also recognized as a contributing factor in triggering fibromyalgia and counts as a type of environmental factor5.

Research into epigenetics is uncovering how gene expression variations in those with fibromyalgia may be affected by a combination of environmental influences and family medical histories4. Additional risk factors identified for this condition include:

  • experiencing hormonal changes
  • the presence of autoimmune diseases
  • enduring repetitive physical injuries or trauma
  • obesity.

What does fibromyalgia nerve pain feel like?

The nerve pain of fibromyalgia is typified by a chronic pain, often intense and dull that lingers for three months or more, affecting both sides of the body.

Those affected frequently describe it as a burning or sharp, stabbing discomfort. Accompanying these sensations are numbness, tingling, and a heightened response to environmental stimuli that both conditions share.

Is fibromyalgia linked to neuropathy?

Although the connection between fibromyalgia and neuropathy is quite intricate, both conditions involve disruptions in how your nervous system works. If you have fibromyalgia, this means your nervous system is extra sensitive, and you might feel pain much more than others would.

When we talk about neuropathic pain in fibromyalgia, we're looking at different ways you might feel pain because of damage to your nerves. You might notice:

  • pain that doesn't seem to come from any specific injury or event
  • numb areas on your skin
  • a tingling or burning feeling
  • being sensitive to touch or to changes in temperature.

Some recent studies have found that 30-50% of people with fibromyalgia have signs that are similar to what we see in small fiber neuropathy6. This suggests that there's a strong link between the nerve issues in both conditions.

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Diagnosing fibromyalgia-related nerve pain

Identifying fibromyalgia and its characteristic widespread nerve pain involves more than conventional medical examinations, such as lab tests or scans.

A comprehensive review of persistent, chronic widespread pain, checking for specific tender points on the body, and consideration of the patient's reported symptoms play a critical role.

The American College of Rheumatology's initial diagnostic guidelines from 2010 emphasize that these symptoms must be present for at least three months without interruption.

Fibromyalgia used to be diagnosed by checking for pain in the various tender points. However, that method is hit and miss because it’s hard to standardize the pressure or type of touch applied. This means that different doctors get different results, and some cases of fibromyalgia can slip through the cracks.

Recognizing these issues, the American College of Rheumatology decided it was time for a change in 2019. They rolled out new guidelines that take a broader look at fibromyalgia, beyond just those tender spots, to better capture the full scope of what patients go through7. This includes widespread pain, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, stomach troubles, mood disturbances, brain fog and any of the other many varied fibromyalgia symptoms that people can experience.

How to treat fibromyalgia nerve pain

Addressing chronic nerve pain associated with fibromyalgia often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. It is most effective to tackle the condition using an integrated method that combines modifications in lifestyle along with psychological counseling and medication as a supplementary tool.

Retraining your pain

Retraining your pain response system can be multifaceted and complex. This endeavor requires identifying the precursors of your pain, such as specific stressors or entrenched thought patterns and behaviors. Once these catalysts are pinpointed, you can adapt or utilize neuroplasticity-based strategies to reshape your brain's reaction to these stimuli.

Dedication to this method through regular practice can gradually reform the way your brain interprets pain signals. This is a long-term commitment with long-term benefit, but it needs consistency and resilience, the payoff of diminished levels of pain and other symptoms is a compelling incentive.

Stress management

Stress plays a significant role in exacerbating fibromyalgia symptoms, acting like fuel to the fire of pain sensations in the body. While it's unrealistic to live a life completely devoid of stress, it's entirely possible to learn techniques to manage it effectively. Practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, and various relaxation techniques can help reduce the impact stress has on your body.

Having a network of friends, therapists, or a supportive community can also play a crucial role in coping with fibromyalgia. This type of support acts as a comforting buffer, providing a sense of security and emotional relief during peak times of stress. Remember, managing fibromyalgia is not a solitary journey, and there's strength in seeking and accepting support from others.

Medication strategies

While medication can be a part of your comprehensive pain-management plan, it's important not to rely on it as the primary treatment. Medication should be seen as a tool that enables you to engage in other effective pain management strategies to improve your condition. These strategies may include education, lifestyle adjustments, and psychological support.

Common medications prescribed for fibromyalgia nerve pain include:

  • over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline and duloxetine, which can help manage pain and improve mood
  • pain and inflammation modulators such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
  • anti-seizure medications such as pregabalin and gabapentin can help regulate the over-sensitized nervous system.

Your doctor is the best person to speak to about which medication or pain relievers may be suitable for your individual situation.

Physical therapy & exercise

Physical activity and therapy are cornerstones in managing fibromyalgia. Routine participation in aerobic and strength exercises can greatly reduce pain and help combat feelings of depression. This natural method of pain relief can boost mood and energy levels while easing discomfort.

It doesn't have to be formal exercise, and you shouldn't rush into anything intense without guidance. Gentle movement that you enjoy and gradually increase is what you want. A physical therapist's knowledge is invaluable in helping individuals start their exercise journey safely, incorporating elements such as:

  • educational information about the condition
  • manual therapy techniques
  • aquatic exercises
  • home-based stretching and relaxation practices.

Striking a balance between an active lifestyle and not pushing too hard is key.

Complementary therapies for nerve pain relief

Exploring alternative therapies can be a significant asset in the battle against fibromyalgia and the nerve pain it brings. Engaging in practices with roots in Eastern healing traditions, such as tai chi, qigong, and restorative yoga, can offer symptom relief and supplement to your overall pain management plan8,9.

Importance of quality sleep

Sleep plays a crucial role in managing fibromyalgia symptoms, forming a vital component of self-care strategies for pain reduction. The interplay between fibromyalgia symptoms and sleep quality creates a challenging cycle, where poor sleep exacerbates symptoms, and symptoms cause sleep disturbances.

Improving your sleeping patterns can help alleviate many fibromyalgia symptoms, including associated chest pain. Tips for improving your sleeping patterns include:

  • Establish a consistent sleep routine with fixed sleep and wake times, aiming for eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Limit daytime naps to short durations to avoid disrupting nighttime sleep patterns, ensuring they remain refreshing power naps.
  • Engage in physical activity during the day to promote better sleep onset.
  • Reduce screen time before bed to create a conducive environment for restful sleep.
  • Create a dark, quiet sleep environment to support uninterrupted sleep.
  • Moderate caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening, can linger in the body for hours and interfere with sleep.
  • Avoid consuming large meals and alcohol close to bedtime to improve sleep quality.
  • Incorporate various forms of rest for the heart, body, and mind to complement sleep hygiene practices and manage fibromyalgia symptoms effectively.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall well-being.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.