Migraines and Fibromyalgia

May 6, 2016

migraines and fibromyalgia

Migraine sufferers know what it means to live with chronic pain. There’s another chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia that has a lot in common with migraines, and unfortunately, many people live with both conditions, especially women. It’s estimated that between three and nine million adults in the United States live with fibromyalgia. The condition causes pain throughout the body and sensitivity in specific pressure points, called tender points. When you live with these painful tender points for three months or more, it’s likely that you could be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Migraines and Fibromyalgia

Most people with fibromyalgia also have symptoms that affect their day-to-day living like major fatigue, stiffness in the joints, trouble sleeping and tingling sensations throughout the body. Over half of people with fibromyalgia also report chronic, debilitating headaches like migraine headaches. Many people think there could be nothing worse than living with migraines – but fibromyalgia with migraines might actually be as bad as it can get.

It’s estimated that almost forty percent of migraineurs also experience fibromyalgia. And for these people, the consequences of these chronic pain conditions are more severe. People with both fibromyalgia and migraine are more likely to report serious depression and headache severity that prevents them from accomplishing daily activities. Both migraine and fibromyalgia affect middle-aged women more so than any other group.

What Do Migraines and Fibromyalgia Have in Common?

So what do migraine headache and fibromyalgia have in common that makes some people suffer from both painful conditions? Both fibromyalgia and migraine may reflect problems in the brain’s pain processing center. It is believed that both conditions are caused by excitation of the nervous system or an over-response to stimuli. Stress is usually cited as a trigger for both migraine and fibromyalgia attacks.

The good news is that many people find that what works for easing migraine symptoms also relieves fibromyalgia symptoms. Antidepressants called SSRIs can be effective at reducing some of the pain symptoms and also curbing some of the depression and anxiety that come along with living with chronic pain. Exercise like yoga, swimming and aerobic exercise in general work in a couple of ways to reduce pain symptoms – exercise relieves stress, therefore reducing the likelihood of triggering the pain and it also opens up the blood vessels to get oxygen to your tissues and keep them healthy.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia and migraine, there is help available. Finding a headache specialist who understands your unique symptoms is the first step to finding relief.


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