Why do muscles get sore

Fibromyalgia Syndrome: When muscle pain turns everyday life into torture

Excruciating pain all over my body that keeps popping up. For people with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), living with pain is almost an everyday occurrence. Because fibromyalgia syndrome is a non-inflammatory pain syndrome that is associated with chronic soft tissue complaints. "Everything hurts" - almost like sore muscles. This is a common description of the symptoms of fibromyalgia patients. The name of the disease is explained accordingly. Translated, fibromyalgia means roughly as much as fiber-muscle pain (Latin: fibra = fiber, Greek Myos = muscle; Greek Algos = pain).

But that's not all - because it doesn't stop with the pain alone. In addition, there are other non-specific fibromyalgia symptoms: fatigue, exhaustion, sleep disorders, sometimes also the typical irritable bowel symptoms and also strong psychological impairments up to depression are possible with fibromyalgia syndrome.

It is estimated that around 2 to 4 percent of the population are affected. There are around 1.5-2 million fibromyalgia patients in Germany, with women seven to eight times more likely to be affected than men. As a rule, the disease occurs in middle age, although the intensity of the pain can increase as the disease progresses.

Why the pain occurs all over the body or at very specific "tender points" (pressure points) has not yet been conclusively clarified. A genetic predisposition that leads to fibromyalgia is discussed, however. In addition, emotional influences such as unprocessed experiences from childhood or a certain tendency towards perfectionism that runs through life seem to play a role in the development of fibromyalgia syndrome.

The problem with the fibromyalgia syndrome: The diagnosis of FMS is not always easy to make, after all, the symptoms that occur are similar to the symptoms that can also occur in numerous other possible diseases, such as an infection or rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, there are no clear laboratory values ​​that could confirm the diagnosis of fibroymalgia syndrome, for example. Rather, when making a diagnosis, the first thing to do is to exclude other underlying diseases such as an infection with Lyme disease as the cause of the persistent muscle pain or tendon pain and the other accompanying symptoms and to arrive at the diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome via this exclusion process. A sometimes long procedure that sometimes requires a lot of perseverance from those affected. It is not uncommon for people with fibromyalgia syndrome to report the problem of having been dismissed as hypochondriac.

But once the diagnosis of FMS has been made and the cause of the pain has been found, targeted action can be taken and the quality of life of those affected significantly improved. Even if a cure is currently not possible.

In fibromyalgia treatment, it is primarily important to counteract the vicious circle of pain and to give those affected, who have often become more and more isolated from their social environment due to the pain, a way back to normal everyday life.

Herbal medicinal products such as quinine can be used for muscle cramps and muscle pain, as can more psychosocial measures. For example, stress reduction plays an important role in fibroymalgia treatment.

Fibromyalgia therapy is therefore holistic and takes into account the interaction of body and soul equally.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome: Causes

The actual causes of the fibromyalgia syndrome have not yet been conclusively clarified. However, research is in full swing.

A basic distinction is made between primary fibromyalgia syndrome and secondary. The primary fibromyalgia syndrome develops out of nowhere, so to speak - no other illness or injury preceded the pain all over the body. There is no clear cause-and-effect relationship. This is where genetic predisposition comes into play. About 40 percent of those affected are known to have had cases of FMS in their families. There are also psychological factors: Emotional stress, persistent stress - all these are influences that are associated with the development of the fibromyalgia syndrome. Last but not least, hormones, especially low levels of serotonin, also seem to play a certain role.

Some experts even speak of a so-called fibromyalgia personality. Various studies have shown that many of the fibromyalgia patients are characterized by similar character traits: For example, a strong tendency towards perfectionism in both private and professional life, but also through pronounced ambition, social commitment and enormous willingness to perform. Here it becomes clear that fibromyalgia syndrome is a disease in which the boundaries between physical complaints and emotional influences are fluid.

Secondary FMS, on the other hand, can be the result of an underlying inflammatory rheumatic disease, for example rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. Infections such as Lyme disease can also be associated with fibromyalgia symptoms.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Chronic pain, especially in the muscles and the tendons, is the main symptom of fibromyalgia syndrome. This pain occurs repeatedly and can increase in intensity. By definition, fibromyalgia syndrome is when the pain persists for at least three months and affects both the upper and lower extremities of both halves of the body and the spine. The pain mainly extends to the back, arms and legs and is felt to be increasing in intensity.

In addition to this rather generalized pain, it is typical in fibromyalgia syndrome that even slight pressure on so-called tender points (pain pressure points) triggers severe pain.

A total of 18 of these tender points were defined in connection with the fibromyalgia syndrome - if 11 of them are associated with severe tenderness, this is an important indicator for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome.

These pressure points can be found on the hairline, neck, shoulders, shoulder blade, sternum, elbows, hips, thighs and knees.

The pain often increases with certain influences, e.g. when the weather changes, when it is cold and damp or when there is severe stress. There are phases in which the pain is barely noticeable and there are other phases in which the pain hardly makes normal everyday life possible.

In addition to the generalized pain or tenderness all over the body described, there are other fibromyalgia symptoms.

These include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • sleep disorders
  • Exhaustion
  • Morning stiffness of the joints
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • anxiety
  • Subjective feeling of swelling of the hands

So-called functional complaints are also typical, such as irritable bowel syndrome, which manifests itself in flatulence, bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and / or constipation and again has no specific organic cause. The irritable stomach is also often associated with the fibromyalgia syndrome.

Last but not least, depression can also accompany the persistent pain.

In fact, there are up to 150 different symptoms in total that are associated with fibromyalgia syndrome. Accordingly, it becomes understandable how difficult it is to make a clear diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia diagnosis

Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult. When people come to the practice with pains all over their bodies, the pains can have many different triggers. Precise research into the causes is required here.

First of all, an in-depth discussion with the doctor and the appropriate survey of the medical history (anamnesis) are indicative. Inform your doctor in detail about your symptoms, how long they have been present and whether your family may already have a case of fibromyalgia syndrome. Have you already been diagnosed with Lyme disease? This is also important for the doctor!

Also tell your doctor whether you suffer from other complaints such as chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, headaches or difficulty concentrating in addition to muscle pain and tendon pain. In this way, the doctor can include the diagnosis of fibromyalgia in his considerations or rather rule it out. Incidentally, women with fibromyalgia syndrome often suffer from extremely painful menstrual bleeding. In this case, tell your doctor about this as well. Even if you have psychological problems, it is better not to hide them, but to talk to your doctor about them openly and honestly. Ultimately, it serves to improve your quality of life!

First of all, the exclusion of other underlying diseases that can trigger the pain is always of central importance. These include, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, an infectious disease or diseases such as osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis or a thyroid disease. To rule out such diseases, a blood test is usually carried out (e.g. for the detection of antibodies or the increased rheumatoid factor). In the case of fibromyalgia, on the other hand, the laboratory values ​​are usually normal and no abnormalities can be found.

Further examinations such as x-rays can be carried out depending on the suspicion.

Physical examination is also important in diagnosing fibromyalgia. The so-called tender points (pressure points), which were defined by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, play a central role here.

  • At least 11 of the 18 tender points (pressure points) when applying light pressure, the patient feels severe pain
  • The generalized pain in the extremities of the two halves of the body as well as the spine and the anterior chest wall has persisted for at least 3 months

The tender points are precisely defined pain pressure points that are located in different parts of the body. They are distributed from the hairline over the neck and shoulders to the hips, thighs and knees.

In 2008, the number of at least 11 tender points was revised in a current guideline - a lower number of pain-inducing tenderness points can therefore be sufficient for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Therapy

Once the diagnosis of fibromyalgia has been made, it is often a kind of relief for those affected at first. The odyssey from doctor to doctor is finally over - my complaints have a name! But what now? How is fibromyalgia therapy carried out?

Basically, every fibromyalgia patient must be aware that the cure of fibromyalgia is not possible. But: There are definitely effective ways of getting a grip on life with chronic pain, alleviating the pain and thus regaining a significant increase in quality of life.

Fibromyalgia therapy is holistic - especially medication, exercise, but also simple rules of behavior in everyday life can alleviate chronic pain and pave the way back to life. In addition, applications from traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture can also be used.

Basis for successful fibromyalgia therapy

An important basis for actively countering fibromyalgia is comprehensive patient training. Ask your doctor about it - such training is offered in special clinics and centers. Here the patients learn to accept their illness, to deal with pain and what options there are for coping with stress (e.g. autogenic training, yoga, etc.). The possibilities of psychotherapy for fibromyalgia can also be discussed here. Contact with fibromyalgia support groups can be easily established here. Many fibromyalgia patients consider the exchange with other sufferers to be extremely important.

Exercise in fibromyalgia

Many fibromyalgia patients have been forced to take a break for years - any movement has been avoided, as it could cause pain again. However, experts actually recommend exercise to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms! Aquagmynastic or walking, for example, are particularly suitable. Of course, gentle movement sequences such as Tai Qi or Qi Gong can also help you to find your way back into flexibility and to train your own body awareness again. If in doubt, ask your doctor which type of exercise is right for you.

Further physiotherapeutic measures for fibromyalgia syndrome

Physical therapy is all about relaxing the affected muscle areas. The spectrum is broad and ranges from applications such as hyperthermia to cold therapy.

The options for fibromyalgia at a glance:

  • Ultrasonic
  • Stimulation current
  • Magnetic Therapy
  • Balneotherapy
  • Massage (with restrictions)
  • Lymphatic drainage

Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about the options that are suitable for you. A cure with appropriate applications may also be useful.

Medical therapy

In fibromyalgia drug therapy, so-called tricyclic antidepressants (lower doses than in the treatment of depression) or drugs that influence the serotonin level play an important role in the basic therapy. In addition, classic pain relievers such as paracetamol can be administered for a limited time. However, the administration usually does not last longer than 8 days at a time. The administration of painkillers alone, however, is usually of little help.

NSAIDs, i.e. painkillers that are usually administered for rheumatism, play a rather subordinate role in FMS.

Basically: The drug therapy for fibromyalgia syndrome takes place individually depending on the prevailing symptoms of the patient. The tolerance of the medication also plays a role. The use of antidepressants can certainly be associated with side effects - individual experience usually plays a role here when it comes to the further course of treatment.

Concomitant use in fibromyalgia:
Quinine sulfate for the relief of muscle pain, muscle tension and muscle spasms

In addition to the basic therapy initiated by the doctor, many fibromyalgia patients benefit from the accompanying administration of the herbal substance quinine in the form of the pharmaceutical preparation quinine sulfate. The regular intake of quinine sulfate can reduce the number and intensity of muscle cramps that occur - regardless of why these muscle cramps arise. Research also shows that taking quinine sulfate can also reduce the number of tender points and muscle pain.

But how can quinine fight cramps - especially nocturnal calf cramps?

Quinine is a natural product that is extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree. The alkaloid quinine has a relaxing and pain-relieving effect. Because it starts exactly where the cramp occurs: at the transition from the nerve to the muscle. Accordingly, quinine is suitable for treating all types of cramps - regardless of the cause.

Quinine or quinine sulfate acts directly on the messenger substance acetylcholine, which normally gives the muscle the impulse to contract, i.e. to contract. Quinine weakens the effectiveness of this neurotransmitter and in this way lowers the excitability of the muscle. The recovery time within the muscles is extended, the tendency to cramp is reduced.

For fibromyalgia patients, the administration of quinine sulfate is a natural and, above all, well-tolerated option to support the basic therapy of the fibromyalgia syndrome.

Positive side effect: since calf fights usually occur at night, the administration of quinine can generally help to improve the quality of sleep.

Read more about the power of the natural substance quinine sulfate here.