Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic disorder that causes tenderness, extreme fatigue, and widespread pain throughout the body. Fibromyalgia afflicts both men and women, but women are at higher risk for it than men. The National Institutes of Health reported that about 90% of diagnosed cases of fibromyalgia are in women. Studies are in the works to uncover why it affects women more often than men.
Women often feel more intense pain than men. What could be the reason for it? This is one topic that sparks the curiosity of most people, even patients here at our fibromyalgia chiropractic clinic in Blue Ash, OH. When they ask why, we mention hormones, immune system differences, and genetics as some of the contributing factors.
On the other hand, some men have FM but are not diagnosed as they experience the condition differently than women. Let’s go into the details of fibromyalgia and the ways women who have FM experience more challenges than those without FM.
More Painful Periods
Women feel menstrual cramps at differing intensity. However, studies suggest that those with fibromyalgia tend to have more painful periods than usual. The pain may even increase or decrease depending on their cycle. Women living with fibromyalgia are often between the ages of 40 to 55. Those who are in their menopausal stage may feel their fibromyalgia symptoms worsen.
Menopause with fibromyalgia intensifies the following symptoms:
Women who have passed through their menopause have lower estrogen levels, as the body produces 40% less of it. Estrogen effects serotonin levels, which regulate mood and pain. It is good to take note that some symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to symptoms of perimenopause, including the following:
- Memory or thinking problems
- Lack of quality sleep
Another thing worth mentioning is the fact that women with fibromyalgia also often have endometriosis. This occurs when tissue from the uterus grows in other parts of the pelvis. Fibromyalgia can make endometriosis much more painful.
More Tender Points
Patients often describe the pain of fibromyalgia as a dull or deep ache that starts in the muscles and spreads to other parts of the body. A pins and needles feeling can also come with it. Pain or tenderness must be present throughout your body to get a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
The pain in the tender points can be irregular and can change in intensity from one day to the next, making it challenging to perform regular activities. Both men and women experience FM pain in different ways. They both feel a deep level of pain at one point. However, men seem to experience an overall lower pain severity than women. Women live through the pain for more extended periods than men.
What Are the Tender Points in Fibromyalgia?
Tender points are certain spots in the body (often near the joints) that become painful when they are pressed or touched. In general, there are 18 tender points for fibromyalgia. However, women report more tender points than men do. Tender points may also emerge in the pelvic area.
Tender points can occur in the following areas:
- Back of the head
- Top of the chest
- Between the shoulder
- Top and sides of the hips
- Front of the neck
- Insides of the knees
- Outside the elbows
If tenderness occurs in the pelvic area for more than 6 months, it is considered chronic pelvic pain and dysfunction (CPPD). Its pain can begin in the back and run down the thighs.
Increased Bowel and Bladder Problems
More conditions may arise related to CPPD, such as irritable bowel syndrome and bladder problems. They can increase your risk of developing internal cystitis (painful bladder syndrome or PBS). As many as 32% of people with IBS also suffer from PBS. PBS can cause the following:
- Pressure on the bladder
- An increased need to urinate often
- Painful urination
- Pain and cramps in the lower abdomen
- Pain during intercourse
Higher Risk of Depression, Fatigue and Other Conditions
According to various research studies, women with fibromyalgia have higher levels of depression than men with FM. Sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome may also coexist with fibromyalgia, making you lose sleep. This can contribute to fatigue and depression. It can also impair your ability to concentrate and increase your sensitivity to pain.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms for Both Men and Women
Both men and women can suffer from these fibromyalgia symptoms:
- Pain in the jaw area
- Headaches and migraines
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, and changes in temperature
- Fibro fog or trouble concentrating and remembering things
- Restless leg syndrome
Natural Care for Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Regardless of gender and age, fibromyalgia can have a huge impact on almost all aspects of your life. Therefore, acting to alleviate its symptoms is a top priority. Here are some of the remedies that can help the body deal with the issues presented by fibromyalgia:
- Change of diet
- Increase in protein and iodine consumption
- More water intake
Here at Cincinnati Upper Cervical and Family Chiropractic in Ohio, we know that a misalignment in the upper cervical spine can worsen and even trigger the symptoms of fibromyalgia. The bones of the upper neck – the C1 and C2 vertebrae – protect the brainstem. However, these bones are susceptible to misaligning due to their flexibility. When they do, they put pressue on the brainstem. It can distort signals being sent to and from the brain. As a result, the brain may interpret sensation signals as painful when there is actually very little or no pain in the body.
If you are looking for a fibromyalgia chiropractic clinic in Blue Ash, OH, our clinic is a great place to start. We use a gentle technique that encourages the bones to return to their original positions naturally. We do not perform forceful cracking or popping of the spine. Most of our patients have seen their fibromyalgia symptoms improve significantly, while others see their fibromyalgia go into remission completely.