Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes widespread pain in the muscles, and increased tenderness in many areas of the body. Fibromyalgia affects up to 3-6% of adults, most commonly starts in people between 20-55 years old, and is more likely to occur in women than in men. It is unknown why symptoms of fibromyalgia in females occur more frequently than in males, although there are likely hormonal, genetic and physiologic factors. Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that in low levels can be result in higher pain sensitivity. Some research has shown that men make serotonin more quickly than women which may decrease pain response. Physiologic differences that may result in increased symptoms of fibromyalgia in females derive from reduced Calf Muscle Pump (CMP) activity. Up to 40% of women in the population have been shown to have decreased CMP activity and this percentage is likely much higher in those with fibromyalgia. The CMP in each leg serves to return blood from the legs against gravity to the heart and brain. Reduced CMP function can result in pooling of blood and fluids in the legs resulting in decreased blood flow to the heart and brain. This reduced blood flow can cause hypotension (low blood pressure) and the symptoms of fatigue, reduced mental clarity, sleep disturbance and pain often experienced by women with Fibromyalgia.
In addition to widespread pain, fibromyalgia symptoms in females include painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea)/premenstrual syndrome, interstitial cystitis (bladder pain), and vaginal region pain (Vulvodynia). The National Fibromyalgia Association has reported that fibromyalgia in females can result in more painful menstrual periods and that the pain and tender points of fibromyalgia in females may increase with the menstrual cycle. In addition, women who are perimenopausal or postmenopausal may experience more fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia symptoms in women result in tender points which are areas of the body that cause pain with pressure. These areas can include the back of the head and front part of the neck, sides of the hips, inside part of the knees, between the shoulders, elbows and low back. Women in general report more pain intensity at these locations than men. Tender points can also occur in the pelvic region and if present greater than 6 months is called Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS). Research has also shown that symptoms of fibromyalgia in females may include higher levels of depression than in men.
The Hummingbird is a promising new treatment option for fibromyalgia symptoms in women. The Hummingbird works by using unique tunable mechanics to stimulate the nerve endings located on the front part of the foot called the plantar surface. By isolating the stimulation to these nerve endings, the Calf Muscle Pump, as described earlier in this article, is activated to contract and relax. Research has shown that restoring the CMP function by use of the Hummingbird can significantly improve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia in females.