People with fibromyalgia and constant headaches need to be evaluated to ensure the headaches are not the result of some other condition. Once fibromyalgia is determined to be the cause, a neurologist can offer a number of different treatments that relieve headache pain and prevent it from coming back.
People with fibromyalgia and constant headaches, often inquire as to whether or not fibromyalgia can cause headaches. Because fibromyalgia is a syndrome, it is not clear that it is anything more than a constellation of symptoms. Nevertheless, many people who have fibromyalgia experience headaches and facial pain.
Causes of Constant Headaches in Fibromyalgia
Headaches are almost certainly a symptom associated with fibromyalgia. For those who had headaches prior to the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it is quite likely that the headaches will increase in severity without treatment. The exact mechanism by which fibromyalgia causes or worsens headaches is not clear, but there are some theories.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome characterized by stiffness and pain in many of the axial muscles. Among the muscle groups commonly associated with fibromyalgia pain are the neck and shoulders. It is speculated that spasm of these muscles may be the link between fibromyalgia and constant headaches. Fatigue and spasm of these muscles is directly related to tension headaches and may worsen other types of headaches such as migraine. Over the counter analgesics like Advil may be successful in relieving pain associated with these muscles. However, many patients who suffer from fibromyalgia will require “trigger point injections.” A trigger point injection uses a syringe to deliver lidocaine and steroids directly into the body of a muscle. The lidocaine delivers an immediate release by numbing the nerves that supply sensation two and from the muscle. The steroids provide long-term in Thai inflammatory control, similar to that of Advil, but localized and of higher potency.
The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles in the neck are often indicated in the eye and sinus symptoms associated with fibromyalgia as well as the facial pain that is a common complaint. The SCM muscles are on each side of the neck, slightly in front of the midline. They constitute two of the 18 trigger points in the official American College of Rheumatology criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. These muscles are often treated with trigger point injections, which can provide immediate and lasting relief from spasm.
In most cases, fibromyalgia and constant headaches are benign and effective treatment exists. However, if there are several cases in which you should seek emergency medical attention as follows:
If the headache is sudden in onset and increases in intensity quickly
The headache is the worst you have ever experienced
The headache is associated with other symptoms such as slurred speech, difficulty seeing, loss of sensation, or inability to move the arms or legs
Often people are referred to neurologists who specialize in headaches. These doctors are able to distinguish between the different causes of headaches based on history and through the utilization of imaging like CT scans and MRI. They are also able to prescribe treatment and adjusted as necessary to provide maximum relief.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia and Constant Headaches
Because fibromyalgia and migraine headaches both seem to result from a genetic predisposition and both affect females disproportionately, it is not uncommon for individuals to suffer from both. It is also common for the treatment for migraines to be affected in the treatment for fibromyalgia associated headaches. And drugs like Cymbalta and Sumatriptan (Imatrex) are commonly used to abort headaches that have already begun. Beta-blockers (heart medications) have been found to be effective in preventing headaches from occurring in the first place.
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, it is likely you will experience headaches on a regular basis. Each person is different in their level of tolerance, but there is no reason to suffer when treatment is available. Furthermore, for peace of mind, it can be comforting to know that the headaches are related to the fibromyalgia and not to something more serious. Fibromyalgia and constant headaches can be a debilitating combination, so seeking treatment can have a tremendous impact on quality of life.