Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. “Tender points” refers to tenderness that occurs in precise, localized areas, particularly in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. People with this syndrome may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and other symptoms. Fibromyalgia affects 3 to 6 million Americans.
It primarily occurs in women of childbearing age, but children, the elderly, and men can also be affected. Although the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers have several theories about what causes or triggers the disorder. Some scientists believe that the syndrome may be caused by an injury or trauma. This injury may affect the central nervous system. Fibromyalgia may be associated with changes in muscle metabolism, such as decreased blood flow, causing fatigue and decreased strength.
Others believe the syndrome may be triggered by an infectious agent such as a virus in susceptible people but no such agent has been identified. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic those of other disorders. The physician reviews the patient’s medical history and makes a diagnosis of fibromyalgia based on a history of chronic widespread pain that persists for more than 3 months. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has developed criteria for fibromyalgia that physicians can use in diagnosing the disorder.
According to ACR criteria, a person is considered to have fibromyalgia if he or she has widespread pain in combination with tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific tender point sites. The 18 “Tender points” are at the base of the skull beside the spinal column; at the base of the neck in the back; on the top of the shoulder toward the back; on the breastbone; on the outer edge of the forearm about 2 cm below the elbow; over the shoulder blade; at the top of the hip; on the outside of the hip; and on the fat pad over the knee.
Some other symptoms include pain, fatigue, memory and concentration impairment, sleep disorders, exercise difficulties, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headaches, jaw pain, and others to many to list here. Treatment of fibromyalgia requires a wide-ranging approach. The physician, physical therapist, and patient may all play an active role in the management of fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise, such as swimming and walking, improve muscle fitness and reduce muscle pain and tenderness.
Heat and massage may also give short-term relief. Anti-depressant medications may help elevate mood, improve quality of sleep, and relax muscles. Patients with fibromyalgia may benefit from a combination of exercise, medication, physical therapy, and relaxation. Common sleep-aid medications include Ambien, Lunesta, clonazepam, and trazodone. Medications that boost your body’s level of serotonin and norepinephrine are commonly prescribed in low doses for the treatment of fibromyalgia, Examples include amitriptyline, cyclobenzaprine, Cymbalta, and Savella.
The pain medication Ultram may help with the treatment of fibromyalgia pain also. In addition to medications some other treatments that can be preformed to help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, these include trigger point injections with lidocaine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture/acupressure, relaxation/biofeedback techniques, osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic care, therapeutic massage, and a gentle exercise program. As you can see fibromyalgia is very difficult to diagnose and to treat.
Also from everything to I have read on it there is no specific reason on how the disease started or what caused it or any glaring factor that can be concentrated on how to treat fibromyalgia. This is exactly why many suffers from the disease feel helpless and scared cause they don’t know what course of action to take to help alleviate their pain. Because of the on going pain and seemingly no answers as to why it is happing or what is causing it, many suffers start to feel as if they just have to live with the pain and that it is normal. Which in turn is not good for the suffers mental state of mind.
My aunt was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and few years ago and I can see how the on going pain and lack of a specific reason for the pain has affected her both physically and mentally, not to mention the many number of medications that she has been prescribed that have not helped. Although this is not a deadly disease it can affect people very profoundly. With on going research I hope that one day soon they will find a cause and a cure, and at the least away to help alleviate the symptoms of this disease to bring some relief to its suffers.