Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by widespread pain and tenderness in soft tissues, muscles and tendons throughout the body.
Touch sensitivity to “tender points” is also reported. Fibromyalgia sufferers often have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep so they may experience feelings of chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Fibromyalgia is more common in women and people who already suffer from a rheumatic disease including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder with no clear cause or cure. Treatment for pain symptoms and other related complications include medication, body-based therapies and cognitive therapy.
The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread (both sides of the body/above and below the waist) body pain and tenderness, particularly to the touch.
Patients describe the pain as a burning, sharp pain or dull ache that is felt in the soft tissues and muscles. Some patients have pain that is better during the day but exacerbated at night. Other patients report around-the-clock pain.
Exquisite pain when applying firm pressure to “tender points” is also noted.
- Back of the head
- Front of the neck
- Top of shoulders
- Shoulder blades
- Upper hips/top of gluteal region
- Sides of hips
Other common symptoms of Fibromyalgia:
- Sleep problems (insomnia, trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep)
Fibromyalgia patients may also suffer from:
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Migraine headaches
- Overactive bladder
- Digestive problems: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD))
- Temporomandibular Joint disorder (TMJ)
Fibromyalgia has no clear cause.
Over the years, doctors have struggled to diagnose and find a cause for fibromyalgia. A few common patterns have emerged.
Genetics: Fibromyalgia runs in families. Certain gene mutations within those families put them at a higher risk.
Increased pain signals: The brain receives an increase in pain-signaling chemicals causing the threshold for pain to be reduced.
Triggering incident: For some patients, fibromyalgia pain begins after an emotional or physical trauma including spine problems, arthritis, or illness. Emotional stress can also trigger short term or long term fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors will begin by ruling out other disorders that could be causing problems. A thorough physical exam, blood test and possible CT scan will be performed.
After other diseases have been ruled out, doctors will then focus on the frequency and type of pain described by the patient, as well as other symptoms.
Physicians base their diagnosis on the criteria set by the American College of Rheumatology:
- Pain and symptoms are widespread (upper and lower halves of the body and on both sides), occur several times per week and are localized to 19 particularly points on the body. Pain is coupled with sleep disturbance, fatigue and memory or clear-thinking problems.
- Symptoms have existed for at least three months.
- All other health problems, diseases and disorders have been ruled out.
- Medication to treat fibromyalgia will be coupled with behavioral therapies for the most optimum outcome.
- Keep a pain diary to try and pinpoint level of high activity that could be resulting from stress.
- Education about body-based soothing techniques including yoga, light massage and physical therapy.
- Medication: There are a number of medications doctors may prescribe to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.Pregabalin (Lyrica)Duloxetine (Cymbalta)Milnacipran (Savella)Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) containing ibuprofen ornaproxen: (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Anaprox)To treat sleep disorders: (gabapentin (Neurontin) amitriptyline (Elavil)
Increase magnesium – In supplement form or found in dark leafy vegetables and nuts
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) supplement – Occurs naturally in the body. Needed for proper immune function.
Increase Vitamin D
There is no known prevention for Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia.com – http://www.fibromyalgia.com/
Fibromyalgia network – http://www.fmnetnews.com/
American Fibromyalgia Syndrome -Association – http://www.afsafund.org/