If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you may find that your symptoms extend beyond those of the condition itself to include factors such as: depression, IBS and chronic fatigue syndrome, for example. These disorders are known within the medical profession as co-conditions, or co-occurring disorders.
Sometimes it helps to be informed and know that you are not alone in your discomfort. With this in mind, we have selected three examples of fibromyalgia co-conditions, detailing the symptoms to look out for as well as some of the treatments that your GP may offer you.
#1 co-condition: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Whilst IBS is a fairly common disorder of the gut, this fact may seem of little comfort to those who suffer from it. As both IBS and fibromyalgia can both be aggravated by stress, they often occur together.
- These tend to vary from person to person and can range in severity;
- May include bloating, constipation/diarrhea and stomach cramps;
- Can be infrequent, lasting anything from a few days to a few months;
- May be brought about by factors such as stress, or certain foods.
Whilst there is no cure for IBS, it may be possible to manage the illness by adjusting your diet and lifestyle. The NHS recommends:
- Identifying a cutting out/down on foods and drinks that may act as a trigger for symptoms
- Changing the amount of fibre in your diet
- Regular exercise
- A reduction in stress levels
If you believe you have IBS you should consult your GP, so that they can determine the cause and suggest a suitable treatment. More info can be found here.
#2 co-condition: Depression
Many sufferers of fibromyalgia report that depression goes hand-in-hand with their symptoms. There is a helpful article explaining the link between fibromyalgia and depression here.
According to the NHS website you should seek help from your GP for depression if you:
“experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day for more than two weeks”
It is particularly imperative that you seek medical attention if you are finding that depression:
- Negatively impacts upon your relationships, work and other interests
- Can not be shaken and your symptoms are not improving
- Makes you think about self-harm or suicide
Your GP will undertake a full assessment of your symptoms by asking lots of questions that relate to how you are feeling, both physically and mentally.
Treatment will be dependent upon your GPs assessment and whether your case is considered to be mild, moderate or severe, it may range from:
- Joining a “self help” group
- Recommended exercise
- Therapy through talking (for example CBT or counselling)
- Combination therapy
You can read more about the different types of treatment for depression here.
#3 co-condition: Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS):
According to an article on the website patient.co.uk, approximately 1 in 5 of those who suffer from fibromyalgia, also experience Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) describes RLS as follows:
“a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.”
Treatment for RLS may include:
- Reduced intake of stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and tobacco
- Taking supplements such as magnesium, folate and iron
- Warm baths and placing heat/ice packs on the affected limb
- Prescription medicine from GP
In addition to the conditions outlined, a number of others may be considered common co-conditions of fibromyalgia, including: interstitial cystitis, sleep disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome. A more in depth report about fibromyalgia and its related disorders, can be found here.
Do remember that if you believe that you may be suffering from one of the illnesses described above, it is important to consult your GP: who can make an accurate diagnosis and recommend a suitable treatment.
Do you suffer from a co-condition of fibromyalgia? Have you found ways in which to manage your condition that may be of help to others? Do let us know.
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.