Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
Researchers believe that Fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. While there is no cure for Fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.
Women are much more likely to develop Fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have Fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. Symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:
- Widespread Pain: The pain associated with Fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist
- Fatigue: People with Fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with Fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive Difficulties: A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
- Other Problems: Many people who have Fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
Even with a doctor who is very experienced with Fibromyalgia, diagnosis can take time. This can be frustrating — for the patient and the doctor. Doctors often diagnose Fibromyalgia by first ruling out other conditions that have similar symptoms to Fibromyalgia.
Typically, a doctor may have to order numerous tests before he or she can rule out other conditions. In fact, the tests that a doctor orders might be quite different on a patient-by-patient basis. Why? While pain is the core symptom of Fibromyalgia, patients can experience their Fibromyalgia pain differently. Patients also have different ways of presenting their symptoms.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
In general, treatments for Fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms. Below are a few recommended treatments:
- Pain Relievers
- Anti-seizure Drugs
Prevention of Fibromyalgia
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent Fibromyalgia. However, proper treatment and a few lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms. Rather than preventing the syndrome, people spend their time preventing flare-ups of symptoms. If your doctor diagnoses you with Fibromyalgia, there are many things you can do to prevent the aggravation of your symptoms, which include:
- Get Adequate Sleep
- Reduce Emotional and Mental Stress
- Get Regular Exercise
- Eat a Balanced Diet
- Monitor Your Symptoms
Need Help Affording Medications?
Patients who are having difficulty paying for their medications, and who have federally funded Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or commercial insurance, may qualify for additional support from the following foundations below: