A close cousin to the uterine fibroid is the polyp. Both will cause many of the same symptoms, but the latter is usually non cancerous.
Uterine polyps are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extend into the uterine cavity. Overgrowth of cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) leads to the formation of uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps. These polyps are usually noncancerous (benign), although some can be cancerous or can eventually turn into cancer (precancerous polyps).
Uterine polyps range in size from a few millimeters — no larger than a sesame seed — to several centimeters — golf-ball-size or larger. They attach to the uterine wall by a large base or a thin stalk.
You can have one or many uterine polyps. They usually stay contained within your uterus, but occasionally, they slip down through the opening of the uterus (cervix) into your vagina. Uterine polyps most commonly occur in women who are going through or have completed menopause, although younger women can get them, too.
Signs and symptoms of uterine polyps include:
When to see a doctor
Seek medical care if you have:
Hormonal factors appear to play a role. Uterine polyps are estrogen-sensitive, meaning they grow in response to circulating estrogen.
Risk factors for developing uterine polyps include:
If your doctor suspects you have uterine polyps, he or she might perform one of the following:
Most uterine polyps are noncancerous (benign). However, some precancerous changes of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia) or uterine cancers (endometrial carcinomas) appear as uterine polyps. Your doctor will likely recommend removal of the polyp and will send a tissue sample for lab analysis to be certain you don't have uterine cancer.
For uterine polyps, your doctor might recommend:
Rarely, uterine polyps can recur. If they do, you might need more treatment.
Apparently, uterine fibroids are quite common as we begin to get older and can cause a myriad of problems such as:
Pain areas: in the abdomen, lower back, difficulty or pelvis pain, difficulty urinating
Menstrual: abnormal menstruation, heavy menstruation, irregular menstruation, painful menstruation, or spotting
Also common: abdominal distension or cramping
they are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often first appear during childbearing years. Also called leiomyomas (lie-o-my-O-muhs) or myomas, uterine fibroids aren't associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage and can add weight.
Many women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives. But you might not know you have uterine fibroids because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.
Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain when it outgrows its blood supply, and begins to die.
Fibroids are generally classified by their location. Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall. Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity. Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus.
When to see a doctorSee your doctor if you have:
Uterine fibroids are frequently found incidentally during a routine pelvic exam. Your doctor may feel irregularities in the shape of your uterus, suggesting the presence of fibroids.
If you have symptoms of uterine fibroids, your doctor may order these tests:
Bleeding post menopause will rile up anyone's day. Nothing worse than feeling the onset of cramping, that hasn't been experienced in years, accompanied by bleeding. One's first precaution is to dive into the internet to see if you are not being afflicted with the big "C". Step two is to call your GYN and ensure you are not harboring a mass of some sort.
It's not that fibromyalgia offers a myriad of nuances as it is, try adding a bit of cramping, fatigue, and deviant emotions to your day that you haven't experienced for 15 years. Yet, according to a recent study in NICHD titled, "Women with Endometriosis Have Higher Rates of Some Diseases," researchers found that woman who suffer from Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have a higher risk for issues such as endometrial hyperplasia. That is due to this disease involving pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Endometrial hyperplasia is a condition in which the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) becomes abnormally thick. Although endometrial hyperplasia is not cancer, it can lead to uterine cancer in some women.
Endometrial hyperplasia is usually caused by an excess of estrogen without progesterone (female hormones). The progesterone is not made and the lining of the uterus is not shed if ovulation does not occur. This means that the endometrium may continue to grow in response to the production of estrogen. The cells of the endometrium may abnormally crowd (hyperplasia), which may lead to the cancer of the uterus.
What is atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Atypical endometrial hyperplasia is a premalignant condition of the endometrium. It occurs when there is an overgrowth of abnormal cells, or it may develop from endometrial hyperplasia. In some cases, polyps (tumors) in the uterus can lead to atypical endometrial hyperplasia.
Who is at risk for developing atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Atypical endometrial hyperplasia usually develops in older women (after menopause). But it can develop in younger women if they do not ovulate or are obese.
What are the causes of atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Atypical endometrial hyperplasia develops when there is no balance between the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This imbalance is called unopposed estrogen and it may be caused by a number of factors including:
What are the symptoms of atypical endometrial hyperplasia?
Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of atypical endometrial hyperplasia. Less common symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharges or an abnormal Pap test result.
An interesting comment my doctor asked first was, "Have you been sick recently?"
"No," I replied
"Have you been under any stress lately?" he asked.
"Well, yes, but nothing out of the ordinary," I answered.
"Because stress plays a vital role in disrupting your hormone levels," he concluded.
You can bet i will be on another adventure here, offering you vital information on this topic upcoming. He also prescribed progesterone therapy to regain my hormonal balance.
The new coronavirus — or COVID-19 — is spreading across the United States. Health officials are working to understand how to contain it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that everyone in the general public wear a cloth mask in addition to continuing to follow social distancing guidelines when they must go out into public.
Path to improved health
At first, the CDC said not to wear a mask. Why do we now need to wear cloth masks?
As we receive more data about COVID-19, we are learning more about how it spreads. Data shows that many people already have the virus who do not know that they have it. They are asymptomatic, or not showing symptoms. It can take up to 14 days for a person who has been infected to develop symptoms. That means that when these people go to places like grocery stores and cough or sneeze, they are unintentionally spreading the virus.
The new CDC recommendation is not intended to prevent you from getting COVID-19; it is to protect other people. In order to flatten the curve or slow the rate of spread of the virus in your community, assume that you already have the virus. Wearing a cloth mask will help to contain your own germs should you cough or sneeze in a public place. It will help to prevent you from giving COVID-19 to other people.
Should I try to buy a surgical mask or an N95 respirator?
No. Only health care professionals should wear surgical masks or N95 respirators. We are currently experiencing shortages of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who are working to fight COVID-19. Do not use a surgical mask or N95 respirator if you are not a health care professional. If you already have some of these in your home, you can donate them to a local hospital or health care facility.
Do I still need to practice social distancing?
Yes. Wearing a mask should not take the place of social distancing. You should still stay at least 6 feet away from other people when you go out in public. A cloth mask may help to prevent you from giving the virus to others, but it does not protect you (the wearer). It is still important that you stay home as much as possible and continue to properly wash your hands.
What makes an effective cloth mask?An effective cloth mask should:
How do I make my own cloth mask?
The CDC has posted instructions for how to make your own cloth mask from materials you may already have at home. You can use a t-shirt or a bandana to make your own cloth mask. See instructions from the CDC.
Things to consider
When you wear a mask, it is important to know how to wear it properly. When using a mask, you should:
Click Below for Walmart Masks 50 for $11.60
With the advent of many businesses reopening it is normal to feel a bit of excitement as we begin to transition to normalcy.
But this is not a time to let your guard down just yet. Rather it's time to renew pertinent information as we head down the road of another month.
COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019, is an infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 is a newly identified pathogen that has not previously been seen in humans and is highly contagious.
Although it belongs to the same category of viruses as SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 is a different strain with its own characteristics.
COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, and the outbreak has spread quickly across the world, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare COVID-19 a pandemic.
How does COVID-19 spread?Because COVID-19 is a new virus, nobody has prior immunity to it, meaning the entire human population is prone to infection.
It primarily spreads via respiratory droplets when people cough or sneeze. Scientists have yet to understand how easily and sustainably the disease can spread among people. Based on available evidence, researchers do not think airborne spread is a major transmission route.
Individuals over age 60 are at the highest risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, while children do not seem to be at a higher risk than adults.
There are currently no reports about how susceptible pregnant women may be to COVID-19 or about transmission of the virus through breast milk.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 begin two to 14 days after exposure. They include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Other symptoms include sputum production, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, myalgia (muscle pain) or arthralgia (joint pain), chills, vomiting, and nasal congestion. Less frequent symptoms include diarrhea, hemoptysis (coughing up blood from the respiratory tract), and conjunctival congestion.
Most of these symptoms are usually mild, and about 80% of people who get the virus will typically recover without needing any special treatment. However, about 1 in 6 patients become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties.
What general preventive measures should people take?
The following simple preventive measures can help minimize the spread of COVID-19:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend that healthy people wear a face mask.
But as a measure of precaution, it is always best to go out with a mask, preferably an N95.
Is there any specific advice for fibromyalgia patients take?
Because fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease, patients are not thought to be more at risk of COVID-19 than someone without the disease. People with fibromyalgia should follow the advice provided for the general population.
What should sick individuals do?If symptoms are present and a COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed, patients should follow these steps to prevent the spread of the infection:
People should call ahead before visiting the hospital for an appointment. This way, the hospital can take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the infection.
Patients who have confirmed COVID-19 should wear face masks when going out. The WHO’s website has a resource explaining the proper use of a face mask.
What tests are available?
Many tests for the detection of COVID-19 have been made available under the FDA’s emergency use authorization, including rapid tests that are being developed to detect the presence of the virus within minutes.
The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics provides an up-to-date list of different manual and automated tests that are available or currently in development.
Is there a treatment?
There are currently no vaccines available for human coronaviruses including COVID-19. This makes the prevention and containment of the virus very important.
Oxygen therapy is the major treatment intervention for patients with severe disease. Mechanical ventilation may be necessary in cases of respiratory failure.
Are there any new treatments in development?
Several clinical trials have been launched or are being planned to test a variety of potential treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. A complete list of all ongoing clinical trials pertaining to the virus is available here. by Fibromyalgia News Today
Living with fibromyalgia means coping with a number of symptoms: widespread muscle pain (myalgia), extreme tenderness in many areas of the body, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, and mood issues like depression and anxiety. But how does having fibromyalgia impact your risk of COVID-19 and ability to manage these symptoms while staying at home? Here’s what our experts want fibromyalgia patients to know about navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
Does Fibromyalgia Make You High-Risk for Coronavirus?
The answer depends on whether you have primary or secondary fibromyalgia, says Petros Efithimiou, MD, FACR, a rheumatologist who practices in New York City.
Primary fibromyalgia, which is the most common form, is a chronic pain syndrome in which the body and brain process pain and stimuli differently, explains Dr. Efithimiou. Importantly: “There is no immunosuppression.”
Since fibromyalgia doesn’t compromise your immune system, there is “no increased risk for acquiring COVID-19 nor increased risk for mortality from that disease,” says Frederick Wolfe, MD, a rheumatologist and fibromyalgia expert in Wichita, Kansas.
“People with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia should follow the suggestions of medical authorities for ordinary citizens,” he says, including proper hand-washing, practicing social distancing, and avoiding unnecessary travel and close contact with other people if you need to go to work or run an essential errand.
Secondary fibromyalgia, on the other hand, often occurs in patients with immune system disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and axial spondyloarthritis. In this case, your immune system can be suppressed and you would be considered high risk for COVID-19.
Knowing the difference is crucial.
“People might think that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease since they are often referred to and treated by rheumatologists, and some of their symptoms may mimic those of lupus or other rheumatology patients,” says Nilanjana Bose, MD, MBA, a rheumatologist at the Rheumatology Center of Houston in Pearland, Texas.
But fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease, which occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells and tissues.
Do Fibromyalgia Medications Suppress the Immune System?There is not necessarily a straightforward or universal way to treat fibromyalgia. Your medication options will depend on your most concerning symptoms as well as if you have any co-occurring conditions. Drugs used to treat primary fibromyalgia may include antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, it’s probably best to avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve); you’re better off taking acetaminophen (Tylenol). According to a well-publicized article in British Medical Journal, “prolonged illness or the complications of respiratory illness or the complications of respiratory infections may be more common when NSAIDs are used — both respiratory or septic [blood infection] complications and cardiovascular complications,” said Paul Little, MD, professor of primary care research at the University of Southhampton in the UK.
“The medication patients take for pain and fibromyalgia, such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) do not decrease the ability of the immune system,” says Dr. Efithimiou.
Additionally, antidepressants do not affect the immune system, says Dr. Bose, and “you should continue these medications to avoid flares.” Before stopping a medication, contact your physician over the phone or using a telehealth system to come up with a plan.
Distinguishing Fibromyalgia Symptoms from Coronavirus Symptoms
Many of the symptoms you may experience with fibromyalgia — including chest pain, body aches, fatigue, and malaise — can also be symptoms of COVID-19. But experts say you’ll be able to tell the difference.
“We tell our patients, if you feel any drastic changes — such as feeling out of breath or sharp pains in your chest — or feel different than your baseline, you need to tell us,” says Dr. Efithimiou. “We ask them to evaluate the intensity and character of symptoms. People are quite anxious, but they should stay away from the hospital.”
Anxiety and depression can cause physical symptoms, including body aches, fatigue, and chest pain. “The best way to tell the difference between potential COVID-19 symptoms and those of your chronic condition is to seek professional medical advice through an office visit or telehealth, which is available at many locations,” says Brett Smith, DO, a rheumatologist with Blount Memorial Physicians Group in Alcoa, Tennessee.
Managing Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Under Quarantine
Fibromyalgia symptoms like pain and stiffness, fatigue, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and depression may feel intensified right now. “It’s a two-way street,” says Dr. Efithimiou. “The more you can control anxiety, the better symptoms are going to be.”
We asked rheumatologists and psychologist John S. Fry, PhD, a former member of the National Fibromyalgia Association, what you can do to manage these symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people find that exercise helps ease their fibromyalgia symptoms and quality of life. The coronavirus shouldn’t stop you from moving. Go for a walk, walk your dog, try online yoga, tai chi, or strength-training classes. Pace yourself and give yourself plenty of rest between sessions.
Practice relaxation techniques
It’s important for people with chronic pain and fatigue to learn how to relax their bodies by meditating, doing yoga, or practicing deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. While there are apps available to walk you through these strategies, telemental health can help you hone these and other pain management skills, says Dr. Fry, who is licensed to practice in California.
Lean on loved ones
Dr. Fry believes it should be called “spatial distancing” not “social distancing,” especially since it’s so important for people living with chronic illness to have social support from friends and loved ones right now. Make sure to carve out time to connect with others, whether that’s calling a friend, FaceTiming or Skyping, or arranging a Zoom meeting with family and friends, says Dr. Fry. And take advantage of those loved ones who are around you 24/7; don’t hesitate to ask for a gentle massage or help with household chores, he adds.
“Many fibro patients may have underlying depression and/or anxiety or a history of past trauma. It is important to broaden your safety net during the pandemic,” says Lenore Brancato, MD, clinical assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “With constant solemn news in the media and necessary isolation from family and friends, it can stoke anxiety for everyone, especially patients with fibro.”
Create a schedule
Whether you plan out a detailed schedule of your day or jot down a To-Do list every morning, creating a routine for yourself will help alleviate feelings of isolation and create some normalcy as you follow shelter-in-place orders. As you complete your tasks, “take a few seconds to savor the fact that you got it done,” Dr. Fry says.
Shift your self-talk
Self-talk can make a huge difference in how you manage your anxiety, which is likely causing you to catastrophize and think in black and white, explains Dr. Fry. Instead of saying to yourself something like: “Coronavirus is everywhere. I’m trying to protect myself. I’m scared. I’m going to get it — and if I do no one will be there for me,” say to yourself something like: “I might get the coronavirus, but I might not if I’m careful.”
Remind yourself that you’re not alone. You likely have friends and family members and reaching out to them does not make you a burden. Think about the last time a friend called you for emotional support. After you hung up the phone, did you think it was a burden? Helping others is a behavior that’s been proven through research to make people happy, says Dr. Fry.
Find a healthy distraction
As you stay at home as much as possible, home in on hobbies and activities to help exacerbate feelings of anxiety and social isolation. Whether you paint, garden, color, scrapbook, or catchup on a Netflix series, it’s important to get into things that give you pleasure.
When you live with fibromyalgia, getting quality sleep is a struggle. Unrelenting pain can disrupt sleep, which can lead to increased achiness and fatigue, creating a vicious cycle. Anxiety over the coronavirus can make it even harder to fall asleep or stay asleep all night. Now’s the time to make an extra effort to shut off those worries before shut-eye and change your perspective. “Before bed, write down three good things that happened, even if it’s been a horrible day,” says Dr. Fry. “Even if they’re little things: my dog licked my hand, I saw a pretty hummingbird, a friend called me today. This too shall pass.”
“Facilitating restorative sleep, which can be difficult during the best of times for fibro patients, requires attention,” says Dr. Brancato. “Sleep hygiene and sleep rituals, such as legs up the wall or simple inversions and meditation practice may be helpful. Daily exercises (even seated biceps curls or leg lifts)can help reduce pain and relieve stress. Exercise can also foster improved sleep.” - Creaky Joints
Last week while getting my "steps" in on the PE field I was hit dead on while completing my crossover near the basketball net. I am sure you're wondering "Why would you be in such a remote position knowing you have chronic health issues?"
First let me plead my case. I have been walking this same circular track for eight years. I cross over the basketball net area on the backside of the course, and I am always diligent watching what court the team is rebounding. So I may have looked up in the trees scanning for local birds flocking together in hopes of some early spring weather. Nonetheless, as I circled the spot, I heard a warning yell and immediately felt the pain in the right side of my face which included the nose.
The sound was deafening. It was a good, solid shot by a high school senior. My senses were out of whack as I struggled to regain my composure. The electrical circuit that our CNS paths run on became heightened. Pain shot back through my skull. It pulsed down the neck and spinal cord reverberating through my shoulders. My arms and hands began to sting and shake uncontrollably. It's path was relentless, sending tumultuous shocks down to my feet.
Everything is 100 times worse with fibro.
Swelling began, but not too bad. By the time I got home I was electrified, nerves pulsating throughout my body. I was jittery, nervous, agitated, sick to my stomach, and had symptoms of head pressure and congestion on the right side of my face. I slept 12 hours, woke with the same symptoms and called my doctor.
Because the swelling wasn't in need of ice at this point, I asked about the possibility of a concussion. I explained my symptoms. I had no time to circumvent such ideologies on the internet so I relied on my doctor for an explanation. She said, "Were you knocked out? Well, then you couldn't have a concussion." She ordered a CT scan that I was unable to get because my insurance regulated a simple xray first. I knew something was wrong and spent the day arguing with the imagery site and the doctors office to get the approval through. I did get in the next day for an xray that pointed to a small fracture to my nose.
But, I had no doctor telling me to take it easy. I was left with the feeling it may be my overactive CNS that is causing all this. Meanwhile I slept 10-12 hours each day for the next four days which sustained the same symptoms. More importantly, I went around my basic tasks, "pushing myself though."
It was during this time a friend who also happened to be a retired EMT said, "You have the classic symptoms of a mild concussion." I was beyond pissed. You can be certain I called that doctor's office to voice a complaint. But in the meantime, Dear Reader, I am going to give you a bit of information in case you come into the same scenario so you will not be ringing you hands wondering what to do because your brain can't focus on the internet.
What Are Head Injuries?
Head injuries are injuries to the scalp, skull, or brain caused by trauma. Concussions are the most common type of sports-related brain injury with an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions a year. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that happens when the brain is jarred or shaken hard enough to bounce against the skull. This can happen when two athletes collide or when someone falls and hits his or her head. It can also result from being hit in the head with a piece of sporting equipment. In a sport such as soccer, even "heading" the ball can cause a concussion. A concussion causes an alteration of a person's mental status and can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. Multiple concussions can have a long-lasting, cumulative life-changing effect.
You don't have to be hit in the head to experience a concussion. An impact elsewhere on the body can create enough force to jar the brain. You also won't necessarily lose consciousness with a concussion. Concussions range from mild to severe. The effects may be apparent immediately, or they may not show up until hours or even days later.
Other types of TBIs are a contusion, which is a bruise on the brain that can cause swelling, and a hematoma, which is bleeding in the brain that collects and forms a clot. A skull fracture is another type of head injury that can affect the brain. Sometimes with a fracture, pieces of bone can cut into the brain and cause bleeding and other types of injury.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Brain Injury?
Signs of a TBI include:
Indications that a head injury is more serious than a concussion and requires emergency treatment include:
Receiving medical attention as soon as possible is important for any type of potentially moderate to severe TBI. Undiagnosed injuries that don't receive proper care can cause long-term disability and impairment. Keep in mind that although death from a sports injury is rare, brain injuries are the leading cause of sports-related deaths.
Symptoms should be closely monitored often with a moderate to severe injury and may require an overnight stay in the hospital. X-rays may be used to check for potential skull fracture and stability of the spine. In some cases the doctor may ask for a CT scan or an MRI to check on the extent of the damage that occurred. More severe injuries may require surgery to relieve pressure from swelling.
Guidelines urge doctors to be conservative in treating sports-related brain injuries and to not allow someone who has been injured to return to activity that involves risk of further injury until completely free of symptoms. That usually takes a few weeks. But symptoms of severe injury could persist for months or even years. A person with a moderate to severe injury will likely require rehabilitation that may include physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, medication, psychological counseling, and social support.
It did take a week for symptoms to abate. But, there is still a sense of fogginess and slight pressure that makes life activities a nuisance. I'm sure I'd be better off if my prognosis was correct and treatment plan was clear.
In a recent blog I mentioned my yearly optometrist screening and how I was referred out for glaucoma testing. When you peruse the internet you'll immediately find:
Glaucoma tests are a group of tests that help diagnose glaucoma, a disease of the eye that can cause vision loss and blindness. ... The extra fluid causes an increase in eye pressure. Increased eye pressure can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries information from the eye to the brain.
But that wasn't the most important concern on my list while speaking to the specialist. I was remembering a short jaunt ago's visit for pupil dilation. It was not a great experience to say the least. The most prominent memory being that my eyes were burning for sometime while drops were put in, during the testing, and for a time afterwards. I placed emphasis on the fact that it is due to over active nerve pain by nature from the fibromyalgia. It was not a pleasant experience to say the least. So it was only natural that I would be a bit apprehensive pertaining to my upcoming screening that could include many various tests in one sitting that would need several dilation eye drops.
There are several types of glaucoma. The main types are:
What happens during a glaucoma test?Glaucoma is usually diagnosed with a group of tests, commonly known as a comprehensive eye exam. These exams are most often done by an ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye health and in treating and preventing eye disease.
A comprehensive eye exam includes:
What do the results mean?Your ophthalmologist will look at the results of all your glaucoma tests to figure out whether you have glaucoma. If the doctor determines you have glaucoma, he or she may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
I was fortunate enough to get into an office that houses a good team. They were very explanatory through all the testing. Best of all, I was informed immediately that these tests would not hurt. It was standard procedure to begin with "numbing drops" before any actual dilation drops were utilized. What a relief that was! Deep breathing was less accelerated after hearing this.
Luckily there was no definitive diagnosis of glaucoma for me. But, the optical nerve was enlarged and must be monitored yearly to ensure there is no degeneration of the nerve that will result in glaucoma.
I encourage you to keep up with yearly eye screenings. You never know what is going to pop up on these routine medical tests that can result in preventative maintenance.
I went for my annual eye exam recently to update my lens prescription. I am so grateful that I've signed on to a simple vision plan to ensure my vision stays acute. For the last several years, there has been always smooth sailing. I go in. And 10 minutes later I'm out with a new script.
This time was different.
It first began with a bit more length to my usual examination. As I was propped up on the phoropter, she had took a bit more time to ensure my prescription was accurate. Then when she utilized the slip lamp, which allows a 3-D projection of the inside of my eye including the optical nerve, she waved it back and forth numerous times. I took a deep breath. What could it be now?
"I'm concerned that your optical nerve has changed. I'd like you to get a more thorough study with an ophthalmologist just to make sure. It may be nothing," she stated.
"Nothing?!" I thought. "It is always the beginning of something with fibromyalgia," I added.
I immediately went home and began searching correlations concerning fibromyalgia and optical nerve damage. It may come as a surprise to you, but there is a connection here, too. After all, we are dealing with sensitivities in the central nervous system.
Research published in 2015 and 2016 suggests there may be connection with glaucoma and fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is widely believed to be a condition of the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal column. It also includes the eyes and the structures that help our brains interpret what we see.
Chief among these structures is the optic nerve, which is similar to a cable made up of many smaller fibers. Among them is a layer of nerves called the retina nerve fiber layer (RNFL).
Those nerve fibers are of special interest to researchers because of other recent work that's uncovered dysfunction of the small nerve fibers. It suggests that, in people with fibromyalgia, small-fiber neuropathy (nerve damage) may be responsible for at least some of the pain.
In two studies, Spanish researchers have also discovered evidence of neuropathy in the small fibers of the eye.
In the study published in 2015, researchers looked at blood flow to the optic nerve and the RNFL. Blood flow, also called perfusion, is hypothesized to be irregular in several regions of the brains of people with fibromyalgia.
Researchers examined and took photographs of the eyes of 118 people with this condition plus 76 healthy people in the control group.
The photos were then analyzed with special software. The researchers concluded that the fibromyalgia eyes did in fact show low perfusion rates in several sectors, but the only significant difference was in certain RNFL.
Optic Nerve Thinning
The study published in 2016 built on that research, involving many of the same researchers. This time, they included 116 people with fibromyalgia and 144 in the control group.
Before now, fibromyalgia has been considered non-neurodegenerative, meaning that no biological structures were being damaged or destroyed as they're known to be in other neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's disease.
However, this research suggests that fibromyalgia may, in fact, involve some neurodegeneration in structures inside the central nervous system.
This, combined with earlier research on small nerve fiber damage in the skin, could mean that the degeneration is not confined to the central nervous system but may extend to the peripheral nervous system, which includes the nerves in the limbs, hands, and feet.
The Relationship Between Fibromyalgia, the Optic Nerve, and Neurodegeneration
Fibromyalgia has always posed problems for doctors. We have pain, but no obvious cause. If this research is accurate, which we won't know until it's been replicated, it could mean that our pain comes from a very understandable source. After all, neuropathic pain has been recognized for a long time. Suddenly, it makes our "mysterious" pain not mysterious at all.
On the other hand, it opens new doors for questioning. If we have damaged nerves, then why? What is causing the damage?
Possible candidates could include autoimmunity, which would involve the immune system going haywire and attacking the nerves as if they were bacteria or viruses, and problems with how the body uses substances that grow or maintain nerves.
Researchers have long speculated about possible autoimmunity in fibromyalgia, but so far we don't have solid evidence pointing toward it. Now that researchers have discovered actual damage, they may gain better insight into where to look for autoimmune activity. They may also be able to pinpoint shortages or inefficiencies in how nerves are maintained.
When it comes to diagnostic tests, it's too early to say whether abnormalities in the eye could lead to a more objective test than we currently have. If so, it would be a major advancement in how fibromyalgia is detected.
Because the thinning was worse in more severe cases, it could provide a marker for doctors to monitor treatments as well as progression.
It's also possible that these discoveries could lead to targeted treatments.
We won't know the full impact of this research for some time, as any advancement in diagnostics and treatments would have to come after further research either confirms or contradicts these findings.
Next article will detail more information on the the specifics of glaucoma. In the meantime, get an eye exam. As the years pass, more is known about the correlation fibromyalgia plays in the CNS.
Valerie utilizes an extensive amount of research producing this blog. Categories are purposely set up in stages, rather than topics, so you can easily implement one step at a time.