Is Fibromyalgia Pain Acute or Chronic?
Acute pain comes on suddenly and can be severe. For instance, think about how suddenly your back can ache after you've bent down to lift a heavy package or a child. Yet, in more than 80% of cases, acute pain goes away in about two weeks. It runs its course and disappears as the problem is relieved. If your pain from a strained muscle lasts only a few days or weeks, it is considered acute.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts much longer than someone would normally expect based on the original problem or injury. When pain becomes chronic, our bodies react in several ways. Chronic pain may be associated with abnormalities in brain hormones, low energy, mood disorders, muscle pain, and impaired mental and physical performance. As neurochemical changes in your body increase your sensitivity to pain, the chronic pain worsens. You begin to have pain in other parts of the body that do not normally hurt.
What Are Fibromyalgia's Tender Points?
Tender points are localized areas of tenderness typically above muscles, tendons or bones-- that hurt when pressed. Tender points are not areas of deep pain. Instead, they are superficial areas seemingly under the surface of the skin, such as over the elbow or shoulder. People with fibromyalgia often have 11 or more out of a possible 18 tender points.
How Does the Chronic Pain of Fibromyalgia Impact Lives?
Fibromyalgia's chronic pain seems unending. The ongoing headaches, neck pain, aching joints, and painful tender points prevent sleep, causing you to awaken frequently at night. The chronic sleep disorder of fibromyalgia results in increased achiness, morning stiffness, and daytime fatigue. While you want to exercise and be active, you may suffer with foot pain, hip pain, knee pain, or other painful joints. All of these make it next to impossible to exercise with friends or to play with your kids or grandkids.
The constant pain causes more irritation and difficulty dealing with others, including family members, friends, and people at work. For women with fibromyalgia who must take care of family members and work full-time, coping with pain is a challenge. If there is undiagnosed pain and no effective treatment or medication for the fibromyalgia, the overwhelming feelings can lead to irritability, exhaustion, anxiety, social isolation, and depression.