Fibromyalgia and Headaches: Causes and Treatments

Fibromyalgia and Headaches

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects between 3 to 9 million US adults. It is not a specific disease, but rather a cluster of symptoms that include whole body pain and painful tender points. Many fibromyalgia sufferers also are stricken by painful headaches.

Over half of fibromyalgia sufferers experience headaches. In fact, fibromyalgia patients and chronic headache patients share one profound similarity- both disorders generally occur in women of childbearing age.

Fibromyalgia and headache research – what does it say?

  • One research study of chronic migraine patients discovered that 36% of the patients also had fibromyalgia.
  • Another interesting finding is that the patients who have both fibromyalgia and chronic headaches reported higher degrees of pain severity and elevated measures of depression compared to those who did not have fibromyalgia at all.
  • Research studies have suggested that fibromyalgia-related headaches occur on account of an overactive nervous system. The nervous system is essentially over-responding to stimulation that normally would not be considered painful.
  • Substance P, which is a brain chemical implicated in perception of pain, is abnormally high in fibromyalgia patients.
  • Serotonin abnormalities may also be involved, as they are with migraine patients.
  • Similar migraine research has demonstrated that headache sufferers who also have fibromyalgia tend to report greater levels of disability, depression and pain than those who are just suffering from headaches alone.

How to treat fibromyalgia headaches?

While it always makes sense to consult with a physician if you are experiencing a new pain symptom, there are some home remedies that are fairly common sense if you’re suffering from a headache. Some fibromyalgia headache treatments include:

  • Common over-the-counter headache remedies like Advil or Excedrin.
  • Anti-depressants that have pain-relieving benefits.
  • Tizanidine: A muscle relaxant that also has pain-reliever properties.
  • Stress management, relaxation training, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Try having a loved one massage your neck and back. You can also off for a professional massage- the tension release and blood circulation benefits could prove helpful in relieving headache pain.
  • Try applying an ice pack to the area of your head that hurts the most. You can center it on your four head, rub ice cubes on your temple or along the back of your neck.
  • Try resting in a cool dark room, closing your eyes and concentrating on releasing neck, back, and shoulder tension.
  • Try taking a warm shower or bath.
  • Make sure that you are properly hydrated- dehydration is known to be one of the more common causes of headaches.

Final thoughts

If you are experiencing fibromyalgia-related headaches, it’s important to get as educated as possible. Make sure that you consult with your physician regarding your symptoms.

To start, it makes sense to choose an intervention strategy that effectively targets both fibromyalgia as well as be headaches themselves. With some proactive management, it is likely that you will be able to effectively manage your fibromyalgia headaches.

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