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Fibromyalgia Headaches & Migraines

Many people with fibromyalgia say they also suffer from frequent headaches and/or migraines. It's important to note that headaches and migraines are two very different things. A migraine is not just a really bad headache. It is a genetic neurological disease that is characterized by flare-ups, which are called migraine attacks. While head pain is common with migraines, it is possible to have a migraine attack without having a headache.

Like FM, migraine disease seems to be a central nervous system problem that results in hypersensitivity to various triggers. There are many theories as to exactly what happens to bring on a migraine attack, but the most prevalent theory is that people with migraines have overly excitable neurons in their brains. When they encounter a trigger, those neurons fire in a wave across the brain, starting a cascade of events involving several parts of the brain.

The most common type of headache is the tension-type headache. These headaches usually occur on both sides of the head and have a pressing or tightening quality to them. Some patients describe them as feeling like they have a tight band around their head. Since pain in general tends to cause the body to become tense, it's not surprising that people with fibromyalgia might develop tension-type headaches.

One type of headache that is important to mention, especially for FM patients, is the rebound or medication-overuse headache. It is caused by the very medication being taken to relieve the pain. Unfortunately, people who are susceptible to rebound headaches find themselves in a catch-22 situation. In these cases, when patients take medication to relieve the headache or migraine pain more than two or three times a week, their bodies get used to having the medication and actually create a headache in order to get more of the medication. The only way to break this cycle is to stop taking the medication that caused it. This can be a particularly difficult problem for people with fibromyalgia since often the medications being taken to relieve FM pain can cause rebound headaches.

(To learn more about headaches and migraine disease, visit patient expert Teri Robert's site)

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