Thursday, June 4, 2015

Migraine, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Myofascial Pain by Celeste Cooper

I have been a migraineur since puberty, for me, the consequences of genetics. My paternal grandmother was also a migraineur, and I always thought that like her, I would be free of this hideous disease by the time I reached my fourth decade in life. That was my dream, my hope, my reason for coping for so many years— a welcome light at the end of a long dark tunnel. But, the only thing that has changed is they are more frequent, and I have acquired additional triggers, spinal degeneration, myofascial pain syndrome, and fibromyalgia

My maternal grandmother had “muscular rheumatism,” an old name for fibromyalgia. I can count on trigger points in my neck, upper body, and face to act as weapons firing on the bulls eye, my trigeminal nerve. A cascade of events begins on my right side, my nose starts to run, and the world starts to appear as though I am viewing it from under water. For me, myofascial pain syndrome is one of several peripheral pain generators to both migraine and fibromyalgia, two centrally mediated disorders.

Centrally mediated = beginning in the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord

After visiting with others who share this conundrum, I know I am not alone. This is immensely comforting in one way, and horrific in another. No one would wish any one of these painful conditions on someone else, not even their archenemy. (If they would, they need to hone some coping skills, maybe see a therapist.)

Migraine Awareness

It was once thought migraines were due to vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the brain. However, new evidence suggests migraines are caused by a nerve disruption. Teri Robert, President of the American Headache andMigraine Association, says, “We had a fascinating presentation in Scottsdale in 2010 showed imaging of a migraine in progress with no vasoconstriction at all.” 

I attended one of her organization’s (AHMA) symposiums for patients. After living as a migraineur for nearly 50 years, I learned more about the disease at that event than I have ever learned from those who have treated me. The one thing I know for certain, if you suffer from chronic migraine, you want a neurologist who specializes in treating headaches.

Possible Connections

Not all migraineurs have myofascial pain syndrome nor do they have fibromyalgia. However, we do know that peripheral pain (such as that from myofascial trigger points) does intensify the body-wide tenderness of fibromyalgia and can be a trigger for a migraine attack.  We also have evidence that there is prevalence of migraine in fibromyalgia

Peripheral pain generator = pain that is initiated outside the central nervous system 

Regardless of other conditions we have, as a migraineur, the most important thing is to control any perpetuating factors.

What Wouldn’t We Do?

We know the drug trials, the willingness to have needles stuck around the eye and in the cranium (feeling like, and hearing, the crunch of a rice crispy treat). We agree to have needles stuck in our body orifices, or spinal canal. We are willing to have foreign objects permanently implanted in our body like the bionic woman or the six million dollar man. We are willing and anxious to try the many tools covered by the American Headache Society or have as many as 35-40 trigger point injections in one setting. These are things otherwise healthy people consider torturous. Are we insane, as once suggested regarding migraine, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain? The answer is NO! What it does imply is we are desperate and on the positive side, we are credible regarding our complaints. If your physician doesn’t see it this way, it’s time to find a new one. 

So, the answer to “What Wouldn't We  Do?” to relieve or even minimize our pain is:


Clinical trial participants are willing to undergo any treatment and even risk their well-being in a quest to help others and themselves. We are a group of empathetic folks, which speaks to our character.

Marching On

I can’t make your pain or mine go away, but I can say I am privileged to march with you, my fellow bandleaders. We may march to a different drum, but we march.

Live boldly; stand out, RAISE AWARENESS for migraine and all the things that accompany the life of a migraineur.


~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain ProAdvocate

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  


Mari said...

It was interesting when I read the first few sentences of your having migraines since puberty that I flashed back to days in our family room during my puberty where I would have such severe migraines that I couldn't even move. Often My Uncle who lived with us would sit by my side and lay his hands on my head and try to soothe me through it . . . I never connected those migraines and early aches and pains to my current severe fibro symptoms . . . Like you, My grandmother too suffered Fibro as well as my Mother, Uncle and Aunt; however of course, their conditions were all labeled something different except for my youngest Aunt. Thank you for your article and your blog!

The Pained Ink Slayer said...

Mari, thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry we share this history, but please to know we are able to share our deepest thoughts without fear of recrimination. In healing, Celeste

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