Saturday, January 23, 2010

Facts About Fibromyalgia

Do you often experience pain and tenderness all over your body?  Feeling depressed,tired and exhausted most of the time? And yet when you go to your doctor for a medical check-up, you get the assurance that nothing is really wrong with you after a battery of laboratory exams and diagnostic procedures.  If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you are suffering from fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain. Tender point locations include:
  • Back of the head
  • Between shoulder blades
  • Top of shoulders
  • Front sides of neck
  • Upper chest
  • Outer elbows
  • Upper hips
  • Sides of hips
  • Inner knees
People who have fibromyalgia may have coexisting medical problems like  Chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, lupus, post-traumatic stress disorder, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis and depression.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown but it may likely be due to a variety of factors such as genetics, infection and phyical/emotional trauma.  Fibromyalgia tends to run in families.

Why does fibromyalgia hurt?  The theory of central sensitization states that people with this condition have a lower threshold for pain because of increased sensitivity of the brain to pain signals.  Sometimes the brain's pain receptors overreact to pain signals.

Fibromyalgia isn't progressive and generally doesn't lead to other conditions or diseases. It can, however, lead to pain, depression and lack of sleep. These problems can then interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job, or maintain close family or personal relationships.

There are no specific laboratory tests to diagnose fibromyalgia. It is a diagnosis of exclusion.  The American College of Rheumatology has established two criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia: Widespread pain lasting at least three months and at least 11 positive tender points — out of a total possible of 18.
Other laboratory tests used to rule out serious illnesses may include Lyme titers, antinuclear antibodies (ANA), rheumatoid factor (RF), erythrocyte (red blood cell) sedimentation rate (ESR), prolactin level, and calcium level.

There is no fibromyalgia cure.  The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.  Traditional and alternative treatments have shown to be effective in treating this difficult condition. A treatment program may include a combination of medications, exercises -- both strengthening and aerobic conditioning -- and behavioral techniques.  Medications may include analgesics (NSAIDs, tramadol, acetaminophen), antidepressants (fluoxetine, duloxetine, milnacipran) and anti-seizure drugs (gabapentin, pregabalin).

Self-care is also important.  Allow yourself to relax each day.  Reduce stress.  Getting enough sleep and regular exercise is beneficial too.  Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Alternative treatments like massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care are promoted also as complementary treatment for fibromyalgia.


Hunnybunny said...

thanks for the information..
i like massage therapy, it's great for restore my body.


is it acupuncture?

JENIE said...

well i'm glad i dont have that condition...nevertheless, the information is well appreciated. ;)

medic / scribbler said...

@doctor online - yes, acupuncture is recommended as a complementary treatment

@jenie and hunnybunny - you're welcome..

thanks for dropping by, friends