Have you ever felt your bones are on fire? What about the upper leg or the back, maybe even under the skin? Some fibromyalgia patients feel that lava is being pumped through their veins instead of blood. They may even have a burning sensation in the brain, which is difficult to explain since there are no pain receptors there.
Others feel like the stomach, tendons, or ligaments are burning inside the body. For many people with fibromyalgia, the stabbing pain is so severe that they cry and scream in pain. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s nothing to show for it! For example, when my skin feels like it’s on fire, it’s not even red. Does that happen to you?
It angers you? We all know that it is really difficult to make people believe that something is wrong when they cannot see a single problem in their body and the lack of validating evidence is infuriating.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
According to medical experts, “Research suggests that pain associated with fibromyalgia is caused by a ‘glitch’ in the way the body processes pain. This failure results in hypersensitivity to stimuli that are not normally painful. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), research has shown that people with fibromyalgia have reduced blood flow to parts of the brain that normally help the body deal with pain. “
The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association puts it perfectly: “Fibromyalgia pain has no limits.” They add that “whole-body symptoms are greatly magnified by dysfunctions in the way the nervous system processes pain.” This is consistent with the previously mentioned research on a “glitch” in the system, so in this context it makes sense that the body sometimes registers stimuli as a burning sensation.
The burning that fibromyalgia patients experience is often associated with allodynia, which is a painful sensation caused by touch and frequently associated with migraines. However, many fibro patients do not need to experience being touched to feel the burn that seems to be coming from within and sometimes from the surface. So while allodynia may be the situation for some people with fibromyalgia, it doesn’t explain the burning sensation across the board. However, to be fair, there seems to be almost nothing to explain any fibromyalgia symptoms across the board. Hence the great mystery surrounding this strange affliction.
CAN YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?
Here are some examples of what other patients say works for them to ease the burning sensation of fibromyalgia:
Massage therapy – A typical feature of fibromyalgia is the inability to relax the muscles. Often times our muscles are tense and we don’t even know it. This leads to a buildup of lactic acid which can also be a cause of the burning sensation, especially in the muscles. A highly qualified massage therapist (you may even consider a medical massage therapist) who understands that fibromyalgia can work with you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to release acid. For some patients, this reduces or even completely eliminates the burning sensation.
Cortisone Injections – Administered by a physician, this is temporary relief and does not apply to all burning sensation situations.
Gabapentin: A prescription medicine used to treat pain caused by shingles.
Heat Therapy – It sounds counterintuitive, but fibro patients who experience a burning sensation often report that heat therapy options, such as hot tubs and electric blankets, provide great relief.
Supplements: Although the exact cause of the burning sensation is unknown, some patients appear to have nutritional deficiencies, which can be one of the main causes of many fibromyalgia symptoms. Look for a high-quality vitamin (preferably whole foods) in addition to a high dose of vitamin D and a consistent dose of magnesium (due to our commercial farming practices, almost everyone in North America is magnesium deficient, causing a litany of symptoms both related and unrelated to fibromyalgia.)
Lidocaine patches – These actually fall into the category of local anesthetics. Although versions of them are available without a prescription, for our purpose of relieving burning sensations, you will want to obtain a prescription from your doctor. In fact, they are often used to relieve nerve pain after shingles.
Antihistamines – Benadryl and Zyrtec have been reported to be effective in relieving burning pain in fibromyalgia patients.
Reduce Stress – You’ve heard it a thousand times because it’s true. Finding ways to relieve stress and cope with stressors can work wonders for many fibromyalgia symptoms, including the odd burning.
Whatever the source of the fibromyalgia burning sensation, it sucks. Have you found something to relieve you? Tell us. In fact, tell us about the things you’ve tried that haven’t worked. Because something will always work for someone and anything we can do to help each other is more than welcome!