Fibromyalgia – A Chronic Pain Disorder
Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems and painful tender points or trigger points, which can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects about 5 million Americans, the majority is women. Women between the ages of 25 and 60 have the highest risk of developing fibromyalgia. Doctors aren’t sure why, but women are 10 times more likely to have the condition than men. Some researchers believe genetics may play a role, but no specific genes have been identified.
Fibromyalgia Tender Points
Fibromyalgia is characterized by tender points located over the neck, elbows, back, chest, hips, buttocks and knees. There are a total of 18 tender points and a patient may be diagnosed with fibromyalgia if 11 tender points are detected. Each tender point is small and when pressed people with fibromyalgia feel pain, while people without the condition only feel pressure. The Picture below shows 18 possible tender points. Fibromyalgia tender points are extremely painful, causing muscle pain throughout the body where the points are located and make it difficult for fibromyalgia sufferers to live their life normally. These tender points are spots of tenderness that are found near the joints, but not in the joints themselves. They hurt when pressed with a finger and leave a deep ache when left alone.
While fibromyalgia does not damage the joints or organs, the constant aches and fatigue can have a significant impact on daily life. Besides fatigue, many patients with fibromyalgia also suffer with depression, anxiety and sleep difficulties. It’s common among adults over forty. It can greatly disrupt the life of a person because they always have to be conscious of their tender spots to avoid causing themselves pain and to continue to be able to participate in the activities they enjoy each day. Doctors and even researchers don’t completely understand fibromyalgia. There are many theories about the causes of fibromyalgia, but research has yet to pinpoint a clear culprit. Some doctors believe hormonal or chemical imbalances disrupt the way nerves signal pain. Others suggest a traumatic event or chronic stress may increase a person’s susceptibility. Most experts agree that fibromyalgia probably results from a combination of factors, rather than a single cause.
Be Sure To Talk With Your Doctor
There are natural treatments for fibromyalgia. But first, you may want to talk to your doctor. Be sure to describe your pain in detail, including where and how often it occurs. Also bring up any other symptoms, such as fatigue, sleep problems or anxiety. It’ll make it easy for your doctor to diagnose fibromyalgia after hearing your symptoms and doing a physical exam. And, your doctor may do some testing to rule out other conditions.Your doctor collects and compares information gathered while talking with you about your medical history and past and existing symptoms. Your Doctor will perform a physical and neurological examination, which looks for limitations of movement, balance difficulties and what exacerbates and relieves pain. During the exam your doctor tests your reflexes, muscle strength, sensations or other signs of neurologic loss.
It’s important to identifying what makes your symptoms worse. The most common triggers of Fibromyalgia include:
- Cold or humid weather
- Too much or too little physical activity
- Poor sleep
Fibromyalgia was once the exclusive domain of rheumatologists. Today, the condition has captured the attention of a wide range of health care providers. Many people receive treatment through their primary care providers. You may also check with local support groups and hospitals for a list of fibromyalgia experts in your area. A combination of medications, physical therapy, exercise, stress management, emotional therapy and even acupuncture may be recommended to help treat and manage fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Medications may include anti-depressants, sleep promoting drugs, muscle relaxants, non-narcotic analgesics, and narcotic drugs. More recently, anti-seizure medication has shown to be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
- Exercise Therapeutic exercises and those that become part of a home exercise program, can help improve pain and mood. Exercise helps releases endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killers. We Recommend Doctor’s Pain Relief Systems which helps improve flexibility, build strength, and endurance. These exercises can help relieve several fibromyalgia symptoms. Physical activity can reduce the pain, improve fitness, relieve fatigue and even depression.
- Passive physical therapies include heat, deep tissue massage and ultrasound. Some research suggests massage may help relieve fibromyalgia pain, though its value is not fully proven. Practitioners say that applying moderate pressure is key, while the technique is less important. Rubbing, kneading, or stroking all seem to help and a 20-minute session may be long enough to get results.
- Stress management is important to relieve fatigue, frustration and even pain. Stress appears to be one of the most common triggers of fibromyalgia flare-ups. While it’s impossible to eliminate all stress from your life, you can try to reduce unnecessary stress. Determine which situations make you anxious, at home and at work and find ways to make those situations less stressful. Experiment with yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. And allow yourself to skip nonessential activities that cause stress.
- Emotional therapy develops positive thinking, feelings of well-being and can help build coping skills. Also Group support can help patients share their problems and solutions.
- Acupuncture is a whole body holistic approach. Like exercise, it helps to release endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killers.
- Diet Certain foods, including aspartame, MSG, caffeine, and tomatoes, seem to worsen symptoms in some people. But avoiding these foods won’t help everyone. To find out what works for you, try eliminating foods one at a time and record whether your symptoms improve.
While fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, remember it does not damage the joints, muscles or internal organs. Many people with fibromyalgia find that their symptoms and quality of life improve substantially as they identify the most effective treatments and make lifestyle changes. You are the only one who can make a difference with your Fibromyalgia symptoms. Doctors can only do so much, it’s up to you to take charge and don’t become a victim of Fibromyalgia. You can do it, and the tips and recommendations I’ve provided can help relieve Fibromyalgia pain substantially! Let us know how your doing and if you have any questions please ask or share your story with us!