What is Fibromyalgia and what symptoms should one expect?
Fibromyalgia is a universal, chronic (long-lasting) muscle and joint pain, making the patient feel weak and tired. Since pains are felt throughout the body, the targeted areas of hurt are known as “tender points” indicated with little red circles of the two human models below. Tender points include which neck, shoulder, upper body, back, hips, arms and legs regions. Other symptoms are sleeping disturbances, muscle rigidity, memory impairment, headaches and painful menstrual cycles. In addition, there are effects of temperature, sound and bright light sensitivities. It is a hereditary disorder which runs in affected families. Scientists have reported that the condition affects 10 million Americans alone at the age 18 years and older. Unfortunately, more women are affected than men; statistics show that 80-90% of cases are women and most of them are around middle age, that is, between 40 and 60 years.
What are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?
- Fibromyalgia can occur by itself, but any factors that will bring about stressful events such as prolong illness or repetitive injuries can contribute to the illness.
- People who suffer from diseases like arthritis and lupus are more susceptible to the condition.
Read more about the causes of Fibromyalgia
What are treatment and management options for Fibromyalgia?
- You should consult your doctor and describe your symptoms. Usually, you would be referred to a Joint and Muscle Pains Specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Other healthcare practitioners such as physiotherapists are involved in routine physical activities training.
- Regular exercise is the most effective treatment. For example, walking and lifting light weights.
- Getting enough and comfortable sleep can minimize the pain. Sleeping can be managed by avoiding caffeine-containing drinks in the evenings, in particular, close to bedtime, avoiding daytime nap and not leaving the lights on in your bedroom at nights.
- Relaxation exercises, massage and breathing techniques help to ease the pain.
- Eating well-balanced meals with good nutritional values will strengthen the body.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy with a group help you feel you are not alone and stop you from negative thoughts that could weigh you down.
- Joining a support group is an opportunity to meet with others and share experiences, ideas, tips for management and treatment. It helps you to be positive and minimize worries about your condition.
- There are specific, useful prescribed pain and anti-depressant medications such as tramadol and acetaminophen combination tablets, milnacipran, pregabalin, duloxetine.
- It is advisable to continue to work, even if you could not do full time, to enable you to use your muscles and joints and to prevent you from losing your aspirations in life, as retiring will make you feel lonely and low-spirited.
Information and support
The best information you can find regarding Fibromyalgia is available in the form of support groups and communities. There you can learn more from real people who are going through similar condition and share their experience. You can visit Fibromyalgia Action UK or This Online Community for information and support.
- Bennett RM1, Jones J, Turk DC, et al. An internet survey of 2,596 people with fibromyalgia. BMC Musculoskelet Disord.; 8:1-11, 2007.
- Bennett RM, Kamin M, Karim R, et al. Tramadol and acetaminophen combination tablets in the treatment of fibromyalgia pain: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. The American Journal of Medicine; 114: 537-545, 2003.