Is there link between fibromyalgia and headaches

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The Skinny on Two Painful Disorders

It is a huge burden to suffer from primary headache disorder like migraine or tension type headache. Unluckily many headache sufferers also bear other medical illnesses. There is one condition known as fibromyalgia characterized by pain and fatigue, sometimes co exist with headache disorders. Understanding of this link can help you how to manage your symptoms and how the doctor treats you.

What is fibromyalgia??

It’s a medical condition characterized by diffuse generalized muscular pain, and significant fatigue. People having this condition often claim that they feel like they are having a flue and they are hurt all over.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

According to the 2010 American college of rheumatology or ACR criteria fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition and its cause is not known, it is characterized by

>>Widespread Pain Index (WPI) ≥ 7 AND Symptom Severity (SS) scale score ≥ 5 OR WPI 3-6 AND SS scale score ≥ 9.

>>>Symptoms that are not explained by other medical conditions.

Doctor document the widespread pain index and in ranges from 0-19, based on the number of pain sites patient reports over the past week (left shoulder, girdle, right shoulder girdle, left hip, right hip). The symptom severity scale score is a number between 0-12 that includes the sum of severity of 3 symptoms (fatigue, waking up unfreshed in the Moring, cognitive symptoms) plus the extent of somatic or body symptoms.

Of course your doctor will rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms like, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, inflammatory myopathies. Patient will have a normal neurological or joint examination yet they will have several sites of muscle tenderness. Laboratory tests advised by your doctor will be normal, and they will not show any disorder that will mimic fibromyalgia. Besides muscle pain and fatigue other common symptoms of fibromyalgia includes:

>>Psychological disturbances, especially depression and anxiety.

>>Sleeping difficulties (I feel exhausted even after a full night sleep)

>>>Memory loss

>>>Tension type headaches

Some people with fibromyalgia also suffer from pain related other medical conditions like

>>Irritable bowel syndrome

>>Chronic pelvic pain

>>A painful bladder syndrome known as interstitial cystitis

Is there a link between fibromyalgia and headaches?

Yes, One study in the journal of headache and pain, of the 889 subjects with headaches, 20%also had fibromyalgia, including 35% with tension type headaches and 44% with chronic tension type headaches.

Finally in another study in neurology, targeting the migraine population, 35.6% of the patients with transformed migraine had fibromyalgia, and 22% with episodic migraine had fibromyalgia.

These results show the positive relation between fibromyalgia and headaches, and keep in mind association does not mean one is the cause of the other.

Both fibromyalgia and headache are complex diseases and the relation between them cannot be clearly understood right now.

Who is more likely to suffer from a headache disorder in addition to fibromyalgia??

The presence of headache in people suffering from fibromyalgia is more likely in the case if the individual has large number of headaches and also suffer from muscle tenderness around the scalp. Anxiety and sleep disorders can also be the cause of headache in people suffering from fibromyalgia.

The big picture

It is not rare that people suffering from fibromyalgia also suffer from headache or vice versa.

If you are suffering from both fibromyalgia and headache your doctor will sketch your treatment plan to treat the both conditions effectively. Remain proactive in your health care.

-Dr Muneeba Rana, MD FUMDC.

For reference:By Colleen Doherty, MD via verywell


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