FYBROMYALGIA: WHAT IS NEW
Although doctors do not fully understand what causes fybromyalgia, there is some new research on better diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Many doctors still believe fybromyalgia is not a real disease. Many doctors have difficulty of diagnosing and treating the condition. New research may help with these issues. New research into brain chemistry, new diagnostic procedures, and new mind-based therapies, such as cognitive behavior therapy, are changing doctors’ attitudes and giving renewed hope to patients. For doctors, the new methods are educating them on how to diagnose this disorder and better understand the condition. The new studies give credibility that this is a real condition and the research is helping doctors give therapies that significantly help control the symptoms of fybromyalgia.
YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO REDUCE PAIN
A new therapy called “affective self-awareness” can help provide relief from pain. In a study using this technique, women with fybromyalgia learned techniques, like mindful meditation and writing about their feelings, to recognize and deal with feelings that can aggravate pain. They were also encouraged to resume activities that they put on hold because of pain. In a period of six months, 46% had pain reduced by 30%. How does it help? Researchers have found that the hypersensitivity of nerves in fybromyalgia patients is a “learned pain”. That is, pain can get worse when you expect to feel it. Also, they know there is a link to fybromyalgia and stressful lifestyle patterns and strong emotions.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may help patients cope with pain, improve depressed moods, and promote fewer follow-up visits to the doctor. In a separate 2010 study, fybromyalgia patients who were given a combination of CBT and physical therapy reported significant improvements in their well-being. How does it work? CBT teaches people how to change their way of thinking to deal with life’s stressful situations. For patients with fybromyalgia, it reduces depression and anxiety which are triggers for symptoms. One successful method is called “reframing”. This technique helps patients replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
NEW DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS
For years, doctors based their diagnosis of fybromyalgia on the tender point examination. However, the new rules include an examination of other symptoms such as sleep disorders, fatigue, and cognitive problems. The new test makes it easier for doctors to diagnose fybromyalgia and begin treatment.
NEW BRAIN RESEARCH
Certain brain activity has been linked to increased pain in fybromyalgia patients. Higher sensitivity in the brain’s pain matrix helps explain the increased pain sensitivity in patients. How does it help? This research shows that patients with fybromyalgia have different brain physiology and helps define the specific brain regions affected by the condition. The more doctors know about the disorder, the better they can serve the patients with refined treatments capable of reducing symptoms.
These and other new methods are helping doctors better understand the disorder and better treat their patients. With this new hope, patients can look forward to better treatments and a better outlook on life.