Fibromyalgia


Despite millions of worldwide cases, fibromyalgia is still under-diagnosed and poorly understood. Many patients who are eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia struggle for years to identify the cause of their symptoms, and undergo dozens of tests and assessments before they are properly treated. Part of the challenge is that there is currently no known specific cause for fibromyalgia. Beyond this, it is a difficult disorder to identify and manage due to many differences in patient symptoms. Patients may exhibit all or only a portion of the signs usually attributed to the disorder, further increasing the difficulty of diagnosis. It is also important to understand that this is a disorder which often has a substantial mental component, and patients must be treated both physically and mentally if they are to expect improvement in their symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder, which causes musculoskeletal pain throughout the body, which is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, insomnia, debilitating fatigue, and persistent tiredness despite a full night’s sleep; patients should seek advice from a medical professional if they experience these symptoms for a period of at least 3 months. Fibromyalgic pain is best described as an all-over aching and feelings of having overworked the muscles of the body, even without exercise. Twitching, burning, and stabbing sensations are common, as well as points of tenderness and pain around the joints of the neck, shoulders, back, and hips. Various other symptoms may go along with the pain, such as stomachaches, chronic headaches, mouth, nose, and eye dryness, hypersensitivity to temperature and light, lack of concentration, incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, stiffness, and numbness and tingling of fingers and feet.

Recent advances in the study of fibromyalgia have resulted in new diagnostic tests which take into consideration more of the most common symptoms related to the disorder than were formerly recognized. The current standardized test to diagnose fibromyalgia has two sections: the Widespread Pain Index (or WPI) and the Symptom Scale (SS); patients are asked to identify the locations where they have experienced pain within the last week using the Widespread Pain Index and then they are asked to rate their level of tiredness, their degree of feeling unrested after a night’s sleep, and deficiencies in memory and concentration, using the symptom scale. Each of their answers is added up to give medical professionals a snapshot of the patient’s symptoms without ever having to resort to painful pressure point examinations, as was previously standard.

No single primary cause for fibromyalgia has yet been established, however, the disorder is commonly believed to be caused by a combination of factors, such as hormonal disturbances, biochemical imbalances, genetic predisposition, stress, illness, and trauma. Low levels of the neuropeptide serotonin and human growth hormone have been suggested as a possible cause in some studies. Women exhibit 7 times less serotonin production than men, which may account for an increased observed risk of fibromyalgia in women.

If left untreated, the symptoms of fibromyalgia will only worsen with time. Chronic pain and fatigue will cause weakening of the body and mind; patients may experience feelings of isolation, fear, and loneliness, strains on relationships and jobs, and increased psychological distress. Patients should seek treatment for their symptoms as soon as possible to ensure that the disorder’s effects can be reduced, and they can begin the process of managing their symptoms.

There are several ways that patients can take part in their treatment; it is important that patients follow the suggestions made by their doctor, and maintain any exercise and/or meditation routines in between appointments. While several types of medication have been approved for use by patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, many patients find that regular exercise, meditation, yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, and the use of Biofeedback devices can all be effective ways to manage their pain and stress. One of the most important ways that patients can reduce their fibromyalgia symptoms is to learn how to deal with and manage stress and stressors in their lives. While there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are many ways to minimize its effect on a patient’s life.

At our office, those who suffer from fibromyalgia will have access to multidisciplinary assessments by a rheumatologist and a pain physician,  medications, trigger point injections, lidocaine infusion, chiropractic, physiotherapy, active exercises, acupuncture, Biofeedback therapy, psychotherapy, and TENS/MET devices.

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-pain

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001463/

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-diagnosis-and-misdiagnosis

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia/DS00079

 

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