Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain condition that affects nearly 10 million people in the U.S., and approximately 314 million people worldwide. Symptoms are likened to those of the flu (total body ache, exhaustion, digestive issues, etc). Fibromyalgia is most prevalent in women, though it knows no ethnic, age, or gender boundaries, and symptoms are equally severe regardless of demographics. Most medical experts agree that fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system in which there is a malfunction in the body’s ability to interpret what the senses experience. What someone without fibromyalgia might perceive as a gentle touch, a fibromyalgia patient would perceive as extremely painful.
This pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia. It often occurs in fibrous tissues—muscles, ligaments, and tendons—and is widespread across the body. It can vary in intensity and be aggravated by a number of factors, including weather, physical activity, and stress. Other common symptoms include extreme fatigue and profound exhaustion, various sleep disorders, digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic migraine or tension headaches, chemical and environmental sensitivities, anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, etc.
Though there is no known cause for fibromyalgia, there are believed to be two major triggers: physical and emotional trauma. Many fibromyalgia patients are able to point to a specific event that preceded the onset of their symptoms. Such events include car accidents, surgeries, illnesses, periods of anxiety or stress, emotional abuse, or psychiatric distress.
When it comes to diagnosing fibromyalgia, it is important to find a doctor who is educated about fibromyalgia, since there are no lab tests that reveal the disorder, and people with fibromyalgia tend to appear healthy. Doctors should rule out other causes for fibromyalgia symptoms, but the presence of other diseases does not rule out a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Two diagnostic criteria for determining the presence of fibromyalgia have been established: the patient must have widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three months, and they must experience tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 established tender points when pressure is applied.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, and it may last for months or years. There is treatment, however, and fibromyalgia patients must work with their doctors to customize a treatment plan best suited to their individual needs. Traditional treatment is primarily focused on reducing pain and improving the quality of sleep via medication, but can also incorporate lifestyle changes and non-traditional methods, such as acupuncture and massage.
If you are being treated for fibromyalgia and are still suffering from pain, visit Spine Pain Diagnostics Associates. Our physicians are skilled in treating fibromyalgia pain when traditional therapies have failed.
Are you ready to learn about your options for fibromyalgia? Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.