Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that results in widespread pain and tenderness on the body.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by the following three criteria:
- The body has 19 painful areas
- Persistent symptoms for a minimum of three months
- Symptoms are not representative of other diseases
The condition is primarily diagnosed by reviewing a patient’s symptoms and physical exam. Since fibromyalgia is similar to arthritis, sometimes a rheumatologist can detect the condition by eliminating other rheumatic diseases as the cause of the pain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism lupus and polymyalgia also have similar symptoms as fibromyalgia; therefore, a doctor may order blood tests to ensure proper diagnosis. The condition affects two to four percent of people, and women are more prone to develop fibromyalgia.
Although the specific causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, experts believe that these risk factors may be associated with the condition:
- Emotional stress
- Physical stress
- Arthritis, injury, or spine problems
Those who have osteoarthritis, lupus, or ankylosing spondylitis are at higher risk for fibromyalgia.
The most known symptom of fibromyalgia is pain all over the body. Other symptoms of the condition include:
- Sleep problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Migraines and headaches
- Pelvic pain
- Confusion and/or memory problems
- Digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and/or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Overactive bladder
- Muscle and joint tenderness
Some people with fibromyalgia may also develop temporomandibular disorder, which consists of symptoms such as face/jaw pain, jaw clicking, and ringing in the ears.
While there is not a cure for fibromyalgia, symptoms of the condition can be controlled with medication and alternative therapies.
- Medication management: The United States Food and Drug Administration have approved a few drugs as proper treatment for fibromyalgia. There are many medications that may also be effective in controlling pain levels. While many people with fibromyalgia experience sleeping problems, most doctors would not recommend certain medicines for improving sleep as they could result in more medical problems.
- Cognitive behavior therapy: This type of essential therapy focuses on completely understanding the relationship between thoughts, behaviors, and pain. Along with related therapies such as mindfulness, cognitive behavior therapy can encourage patients to learn specific skills to reduce symptoms and pain.
- Acupuncture: This treatment is designed to relieve pain by inserting tiny needles along various areas of the body.
- Chiropractic care: As an another alternative therapy, chiropractic can be used to successfully manage fibromyalgia symptoms. The approach focuses on pain that is associated with the musculoskeletal system.
Many patients also report feeling much better when they engage in self-care activities including daily exercise, regular sleep patterns, and meditation. In addition, body-based therapies like yoga and tai chi may also relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, contact Allied Pain & Spine Institute today to schedule an appointment to see one of our pain management specialists.