Sounding like something in a foreign language, the term fibromyalgia actually comes from the Greek and Latin words “fibro” (fibrous), my (muscle) and algios (pain). In reality there is nothing foreign about it. This painful ailment, which has also been classified as a neuropsychiatric disorder, has been around for a long time and unfortunately has not been taken very seriously by some medical professionals. This usually happens when a young person is involved showing signs of depression coupled with anxiety. Let’s be realistic, if you were in a lot of pain wouldn’t you get depressed? I know I would. I might even get a little ticked off like some of the other patients with fibromyalgia who have been told that it’s “all in your head” or that “they are having a hypochondriac fantasy.”
Fibromyalgia is also known as an “invisible “disorder, mainly because no evidence of it shows up in X-rays, blood work, CT scans or MRI’s to help diagnose the condition. It is also very mysterious and confusing because it can accompany other diseases or manifest itself directly or indirectly with other disorders only showing the subtle differences in a raft of tests spanning several years. Some physicians treat it as another ailment when in fact it isn’t a disease but rather a malfunction of the nervous system. Fibromyalgia has no inflammation with it and is not life threatening. Not enough physicians are adequately educated in recognizing and treating this disorder and accounts for the average diagnosis of fibromyalgia to range from 5 to 7 years.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic painful disorder of the connective tissues and muscles in the entire body indicated by stiffness in the joints and muscles and accompanied by pain ranging from mild to rather severe. Other symptoms include insomnia or difficulty staying asleep due to pain, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, and highly sensitive areas to pain on both sides of the body. Cognitive difficulties in thinking and memory, called “fibro-fog”, migraine headaches and tingling or numbness of the face and hands are also indicative of fibromyalgia.
Besides these symptoms patients must have chronic widespread pain above and below the waist and at least for three months consecutively. Another qualification in determining the presence of fibromyalgia is displaying pain in 11 of the 18 pairs of pressure points on both sides of the body. These areas, also known as trigger points, are narrowed down to the areas front and back of the neck, below the sternum in the chest, the elbows, knees, hips, buttocks, lower back and the second rib below the collar bone. When pressure is applied to the trigger points pain is generated and sometime feels like it wants to travel in another direction. Ranging in intensity, the pain can really put a halt to your lifestyle. Loss of work, school, family outings, sports and other enjoyable events have been some of the casualties of fibromyalgia.
Not everyone suffers the same way. I have a friend who has super sensitive skin that, when touched, causes her to have pain. Certain fabrics are irritating for her and when she rides in a car the bumps and turns of the road causes her pain too. This especially happens with a flare-up. Sensitivity to sound and light can also stimulate a flare-up of fibromyalgia. It seems that sufferers of this condition have to study themselves and determine what they can do and what they should avoid in their lives to reduce the occurrence of these attacks.
What to Do If You Have Fibromyalgia
First, seek out an educated and compassionate doctor and if you have severe fibromyalgia, look for a specially trained physical therapist who understands all about the difficulties encountered with fibromyalgia. Locate a support group and also talk to your doctor. There are a lot of people willing to share how they cope or handle this disorder.
Staying active is key to easing the pain but don’t overdo it. Know your limitations and try low impact exercises such as swimming or cycling. Walking can ease the stiffness too.
Then there are medications to consider. Check with your doctor to see which ones would be right for you. Do some research on this condition and you might be surprised at what you may find. There’s a wealth of information out there.
Physical therapy is another route to comfort. Be sure your therapist is highly qualified because you don’t want to add injury to agony.
You might have to change your lifestyle a little bit and try to keep a positive outlook on life. It really makes a difference in how you feel. Just remember you are not alone. Millions of people suffer from this condition worldwide. There are ways to help with this condition and provide relieve from the symptoms of fibromyalgia.