Fibromyalgia is a chronic and painful condition that
is extremely hard to diagnose.
The main symptoms are constant pain and stiffness in the
musculoskeletal parts of the body, soft tissue tenderness and sleep
disturbances leading to extreme tiredness. The pain is mostly felt
in the neck, back, pelvic girdle and hands, though any other parts
of the body may be affected.
This disease is very hard to diagnose because so many of the
symptoms are similar to other problems like chronic fatigue,
rheumatism and arthritis. Doctors must rely a great deal on their
patientsí description of symptoms.
There is a manual standardized test that can be given to discover
if there is pain at specified points of the body. If 11 out of 18 of
these specified points are tender, and the patient has had pain in
all four quadrants of the body for at least three months then
Fibromyalgia is certainly suspected.
A compounding problem is that these symptoms can come and go from
week to week. Numbness, tingling and burning may also be present and
the pain can be affected by emotional stress, trauma and also by
weather conditions such as humidity and cold. Too little or too much
activity can also play a part in the amount of pain experienced.
Sometimes FM can be triggered by an illness or injury, but it is
also thought to be genetic. New research has shown that it may be
caused by an interpretive defect of the central nervous system that
causes abnormal pain perception.
Once the condition has been diagnosed, there is much the patient
can do to relieve the symptoms. Certainly the advice of a medical
health-care provider should be sought and followed, but there are
many alternative treatments that offer relief from the symptoms.
Most doctors agree that sufferers of FM should put into place a
multi-faceted treatment regimen that includes nutrition, exercise,
dietary supplements, acupuncture, aroma-therapy, relaxation
techniques and even the use of hot-cold therapies and humor to aid
in pain relief.
Over the counter pain relief medication such as ibuprofen can be
used, while low doses of anti-depressants from the doctor can
certainly help the sufferer to get better sleep. Lidocaine
injections into tender pain points may also be needed for relief.
Gentle exercise and stretching will prevent the muscles from wasting
away and is also beneficial in reducing pain and stiffness
Because living with a chronic illness such as FM can be so
debilitating, sufferers need emotional support as well as physical.
Joining an FM support group can provide helpful insights into the
disease, while counseling sessions with a trained professional can
open communication with friends and family who often cannot
understand the extensive disabilities caused by FM.
If you are an FM sufferer, it is important to keep a hopeful
attitude even in the face of debilitating pain, because this disease
does tend to improve over time and there are always new and
different treatments being discovered.