Fibromyalgia is the second most common condition affecting your bones and muscles, however, it is also one of the most misdiagnosed conditions.
The condition is often characterized by widespread pain and fatigue, impacting on an individuals’ ability to do everyday tasks. According to Health Central, 50% of people with Fibromyalgia have difficulty with performing routine daily activities.
Difficulties that are commonly experienced include problems with sleeping, poor memory and a sensitivity to light and noise. In addition to this, it also causes sleeping problems, fatigue and in some cases, irritable bowel syndrome. Often, patients have to wait years before being diagnosed. An ACPA study even found that 77 percent of cases take three years or more to be properly diagnosed. This is often due to common symptoms resembling other conditions such as Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. One of the most annoying symptoms of Fibromyalgia is a constant lack of energy. For sufferer Amy Mullholand, simple chores such as housework can be extremely difficult. She asserts, “on the best days, I can get through the cups and silverware, then I must sit for at least 15-20 minutes. Then I tackle the bowls. Then I sit and rest”. However, a bad day for people with Fibromyalgia can be far worse. Amy explains, “I will have literally cried from the pain of standing long enough to fry an egg”. Despite the struggles, it is common for people with the condition to be simply told that they are suffering from mild aches and pains or are deficient in vitamins.
Who is Affected by Fibromyalgia?
Both men and women can be affected by Fibromyalgia, however, it is known to affect around 7 times as many women as men. The condition can occur in people of any age, however typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50. All ethnic groups can be affected by Fibromyalgia. Interestingly, women who have a family member with Fibromyalgia are more likely to develop the condition. It has even been found that jaw and facial tenderness is a potential risk factor. A recent study found that 90% of Fibromyalgia patients have jaw or facial tenderness that can produce symptoms of the disorder. Fibromyalgia is also known to commonly occur in individuals with other rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus and ankylosing spondylitis.
Are you suffering from incontinence as a result of Fibromyalgia? Read our Living with Incontinence section for tips and advice on managing incontinence.
So How Can Fibromyalgia Cause Urinary Incontinence?
A large proportion of people with Fibromyalgia report chronic pain in the pelvis along with frequent urges to urinate. The occurrence of bladders symptoms in patients in with Fibromyalgia has even led to the development of a sensory rating tool known as the Fibromyalgia Bladder Index. This ranking device allows for doctors and patients with Fibromyalgia to assess bladder symptoms. Some researchers argue that the explanation for bladder problems caused by Fibromyalgia may be neurological.
Neurological conditions affect the body’s nervous system, which plays an important role in regulating the storage of urine in the bladder. The body’s nervous system is also important in controlling when we urinate. Fibromyalgia often emerges in people who have chronic pain due to factors such as trauma, infections and injuries. This chronic pain is thought to sensitize the central nervous system to pain stimuli, which causes Fibromyalgia. As other neurological conditions are known to commonly cause urge incontinence, it is suggested that Fibromyalgia can trigger the nerves that control the urinary system. Urge incontinence is actually the most common type of incontinence that people with Fibromyalgia struggle with. Those with urge incontinence have a sudden, powerful need to urinate. These leakages often occur at night time, which is a condition also known as Nocturnal Enuresis. Stress incontinence is another common type of incontinence caused by Fibromyalgia, which is leakage caused by putting pressure on the bladder during activities such as coughing or laughing.
The muscle pains and contractions that sufferers experience is another factor that causes urinary incontinence. Pains in the muscles can make individuals feel as if they have to urinate or experience frequent urination. Interestingly, the muscles that play a role in the pain people feel from Fibromyalgia are the same ones that can make the body suffer from an overactive bladder. The digestive problems caused by Fibromyalgia can also play a role in causing the bladder to receive mixed signals.
If you are suffering from Fibromyalgia and urinary incontinence, you do not have to be embarrassed about it. There are so many people that deal with overactive bladders, and it’s incredibly common for it to go hand in hand with other disorders such as Fibromyalgia. Visiting a Doctor and discussing the best treatment options for you is a huge step forward.