Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, reduced sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Fibromyalgia symptoms are different from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis because they do not involve the joints. The most common sites of fibromyalgia pain are the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle and hands. Fibromyalgia syndrome affects 3 to 6 million people, 80% occurring in women between the ages of 35 and 55, although, women, men and children of any age may be affected.
What Are The Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
The main fibromyalgia symptoms are the presence of multiple tender points, fatigue and extensive, chronic pain in the tissues of the muscles, tendons (which connect muscle to bone) and ligaments (which connect bones, muscles and tendons).
Additional symptoms may include irritable bowel and bladder, headaches, facial pain and migraines, restless legs syndrome, impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes, dry mouth, anxiety, depression, impaired coordination, dizziness, vision problems, heightened sensitivity to odors, noise, light, touch and weather change. All fibromyalgia symptoms can be made worse by stress.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing fibromyalgia syndrome. Diagnosis depends on self-reported symptoms, a physical examination and an accurate manual tender point examination. Proper examination helps determine the presence of multiple tender points at characteristic locations.
What Is The Treatment For Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
In general, treatment for fibromyalgia includes both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.
Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include:
- Analgesics: Acetaminophen, Opiod analgesics – Tramadol
- Antidepressants: Amitryptyline, Duloxetine, Fluoxetine
- Antiepileptics: Carbamazepine, Gabapentine
Other non-pharmacological treatment modalities:
Self-care is critical in the management of fibromyalgia
Reduce stress – Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation
Get enough sleep – Fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia. Getting sufficient sleep is essential. Also, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping
Exercise regularly – At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it gradually and regularly often decreases symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics
Pace yourself – Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have more bad days. Moderation means not overdoing it on your good days, but likewise it means not self-limiting or doing too little on the days when symptoms flare
Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake. Do something that you find enjoyableand fulfilling every day.