Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a debilitating chronic pain disorder that is estimated to affect roughly ten million Americans.  The prevalence of the condition has only increased in recent years, which may largely be attributed to more detailed research and improved guidelines for diagnosis.  The incidence of Fibromyalgia is much greater in women, especially those between the ages of thirty and fifty years old.  While there is currently no cure for Fibromyalgia, there are ways for individuals to manage their pain.

WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA

At the turn of the twenty-first century, doctors started diagnosing some cases of extreme, widespread, and chronic muscle and joint pain in individuals as a disorder called Fibromyalgia.  Prior to this movement, thousands of individuals experienced this pain on a daily basis with no diagnosis or treatment plan, which led to a staggeringly low quality of life.

Statistically, the disease is typically diagnosed more frequently in females than males, although both can experience the condition.  While some scientists suspect that a family history of the disease could predispose some individuals to experience Fibromyalgia, the theory is not yet conclusive.

Fibromyalgia Pain and Treatment | Escape The Pain

COMMON FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS

Fibromyalgia symptoms are somewhat nebulous in nature because they are rarely localized.  Most individuals suffering from this condition will often report symptoms such as overwhelming fatigue, widespread pain, and feeling as though they are in a fog of sorts.

Although fatigue can be a symptom of a variety of different conditions, it is both intense and chronic for those suffering from Fibromyalgia.  One of the primary sources of fatigue for many individuals is the interruption of their sleep cycle due to pain and restlessness.  While still others say they sleep soundly throughout the night but still wake up feeling very tired.

Widespread pain is another of the common Fibromyalgia symptoms.  For many people living with the condition, they tend to experience full body pain rather than one specific and localized area.  Unfortunately, most report the pain to be fairly constant and lasting for a period of several months or more.

Perhaps the vaguest of symptoms is the feeling of a brain fog that many individuals report having.  On average, this can even affect a person’s ability to focus and concentrate on the simplest of tasks.

The broad scope and often immeasurable symptoms of Fibromyalgia can make diagnosing the disease quite difficult.  As of today, there is no definitive medical test that can diagnose the condition.  In fact, in many cases a Fibromyalgia diagnosis is made only after a number of copycat conditions can be medically tested and systematically eliminated as the cause of an individual’s malaise.  Some conditions that may mimic the symptoms of this disease include lupus, an underactive thyroid, and arthritis.  The good news is that most of these copycat conditions can be proven or disproven with a simple blood test and patient history.

If all of these conditions can be scientifically ruled out, a doctor will likely follow up with additional questions about patient history that will aid them in deciding whether or not a Fibromyalgia diagnosis is appropriate.

HOW FIBROMYALGIA AFFECTS THE BODY

As if the primary Fibromyalgia symptoms of fatigue, chronic pain, and brain fog are not challenging enough, some studies have shown that those with the condition may also be more likely to experience additional symptoms and conditions such as severe headaches or migraines, joint issues, and even irritable bowel syndrome.  These conditions can also sometimes further complicate a Fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Over time, undiagnosed or unmanaged Fibromyalgia simply wears the body down.  Extreme pain and fatigue experienced over months at a time with little to no relief can often lead to bouts of anxiety and depression.  Unfortunately, extended periods of pain may also affect an individual’s ability to perform at work and continue with their routine daily schedules.  All of these effects can combine to drastically lower an individual’s overall quality of life.

MANAGING FIBROMYALGIA

Although scientists are hard at work on exploring treatment options for Fibromyalgia, there is currently no cure for this disease.  However, there are a number of ways Fibromyalgia patients are managing their condition to obtain relief and a higher quality of life.

One way some doctors treat fibromyalgia in their patients is with the aid of medication.  Whether it be a brand name drug specifically designed to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, a muscle relaxer, or an antidepressant, these medications may provide patients with welcome relief.  Over the counter painkillers may also be helpful in relieving some Fibromyalgia symptoms.  Regardless of the medication a patient takes, they should monitor their use closely and be watchful for signs of dependency.

Some patients prefer to delay or avoid treating their Fibromyalgia symptoms with drugs and instead prefer to dedicate themselves to a regular exercise routine.  While not every sport or workout is a good match for those with this condition, some examples of light impact workouts might include yoga, Pilates, or even just a walk around the block.  Although it may seem counterproductive to exercise when you are experiencing Fibromyalgia related pain, studies show that it may help boost your mood, lower stress levels, and possibly even help you sleep a little more soundly.

In a blend of modern and ancient medicine, some patients claim that hands on treatments such as massage and acupuncture have provided much needed temporary relief from some of their Fibromyalgia symptoms.

 

Fibromyalgia is simply not a one size fits all disorder.  It affects every individual differently in terms of pain, fatigue, and overall well-being.  For that same reason, a treatment that does not provide relief in one patient may offer immense relief to another.

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