Those who know Fibromyalgia (FMS), know that it comes with a whole load of pain. Pain is often the first symptom that those with the condition complain about to the practitioners. The one thing the patient wants the practitioner to do, is stop the pain and although the practitioner will, on most occasions, try their best to do so, often they fail time and time again, leaving the patient frustrated and still in pain.
The body has its own in-built protection against pain that is part of the central nervous system (CNS) The CNS consists of the spinal column and the brain. When we stub our toe, for instance, the nerves from our toe send a message to the CNS that simply says ‘Pain’. The CNS then pauses a moment and then sends back one of three messages; stand still, run away or fight. Now depending on what the CNS told the toe to do the last instance it was bumped, the changes are it will send out the same signal again, which for me is usually ‘run away.’
However when the CNS becomes overloaded with pain signals it becomes a little confused and the only signal it seems to send out is ‘stay still’. Often when our bodies are submitted to a traumatic or high stress event the CNS will send out the signal ‘stay still’, in most cases this is a good idea. Take for instance a traumatic event such as a car accident. For some time the occupants of the car may know they are injured, but not how bad they are injured, so the CNS response to ‘stay still’ is a good one and we often do, just has we are told. Often when faced with such trauma or high stress we have to force the body into motion, subconsciously or consciously telling the body to move, therefore overriding the CNS advice to ‘stay still.’
However those with Fibromyalgia (FMS) are in such high pain, in all or most of body the the CNS also shouts ‘stay still’. Staying still is a good thing if it protect your life, but what if it doesn’t? In most cases of FMS the wiring has gone haywire and the pain signals that are being received and then sent out are so confused that more often then not the body ‘stays still’ for far too long.
Staying still to long brings with it other problems, one such problem is muscle atrophy or muscle wastage. Now anyone who has broken a bone and been in a caste for some time, will understand atrophy. With FMS the atrophy is less obvious and effects all the muscles in the body that are not being used. Another way to look at it is to think of any time that you may have started a new exercise routine. Think about how your muscles ache the day after the first time you have completed the routine! Got it? Now instead of imagining the last time your leg muscles, think about how it would feel if that level of pain affected every muscle in your body! That is FMS.
The CNS causes those with FMS to ‘stay still’. Staying still causes the muscles to atrophy, even to a small extent and the longer you are immobile the worse the muscles atrophy. Atrophy causes fatigue and pain in the muscles when we try and use them. Getting past this point of fatigue and pain is very difficult, because the CNS keeps telling us to ‘stay still’ as a way to protect us from danger. Eventually the muscles get to a point where they will struggle to gain back that which they have lost and recovery is almost impossible and many sufferers of FMS end up living their lives in bed.
It is not impossible to recover from FMS, but it takes staunch determination to get past the pain. However once the CNS is damaged it remains defective and although some part of ‘normal’ life can continue, the pain will always ‘hum’ in the background.