I have kept a low profile in the last few days due to a fibromyalgia headache that is still looming. There are a lot of difficult things about living with fibromyalgia but it seems like the worst of it is these headaches that linger for days.
If you have fibromyalgia (FMS), you experience muscle aches and pains all over your body. You also start to get more headaches and migraines the longer you have FMS. These headaches makes the disease harder to deal with and they contribute to the symptoms you are already dealing with including sleep disturbance, nausea, and fatigue. Every time I get one of these “fibromyalgia headaches,” I wonder if I am the only one, but the more research I have done, the more I realize I am not alone.
I call them fibromyalgia headaches because they seem to be a combination of a migraine and a tension headache. Further, most people think that taking an over the counter pain medication or prescription for the headache would solve the problem, but like everything else about FMS, it is not that easy. People with FMS will get one of three types of headaches: muscle tension headache, migraine or a combination headache. Lucky me, mine are a combination.
A muscle tension headache is also called a muscle contraction headache or a tension headache. This type of headache is caused by muscle contractions in the neck, head, jaw, upper back and shoulders. Muscle spasms are also felt at the base of the neck and into the temples. Think of them as a band tightening around the entire head. These type of headaches range from moderate to severe and can last from a few hours to a few days.
Migraines are caused by constrictions of your blood vessels and arteries, and are often referred to as vascular headaches. They are a result of factors like stress, fatigue and illness. The blood vessels in the head and neck constrict and then dilate, causing severe pain nausea, dizziness and eye pain. A migraine can move around the head, shifting sides. Episodes of anxiety, depression and fatigue can signal the onset of a migraine. Other symptoms include visual symptoms including double vision, blurry vision, flashing dots, bright lights, or distorted vision. A migraine can last from four hours to up to a week.
Combination headaches (tension and migraine) are common in fibromyalgia sufferers. Hence, here I am going on 4 days. Can you imagine a headache lasting more than four days? I have taken several different types of pain relievers to no avail, and I finally made it in to work today feeling like I am half-functioning. I am hoping the worst of it is over but I will definitely be glad when it’s over. In the meantime, please pass the Excedrin Migraine.