This disease or syndrome can be very painful and debilitating in some individuals. About 5 to 7% of Americans are affected by this condition and it occurs predominately in women, although men and even children have been known to experience fibromyalgia. Generally characterized by widespread pain, this condition can cause major disruption in a person’s life.
SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
A combination of mild to severe pain and stiffness in and around joints involving the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bone are classic symptoms of fibromyalgia. These can vary and be localized in certain areas such as the front and back of the neck, lower back, the upper part of the shoulders and into the chest or rib cage, thighs, the joints of the elbows and knees, and sometimes in the jaw or facial muscles used in chewing. At times all or just a few of these signs are present, thus making fibromyalgia very complicated and difficult to diagnose correctly. Usually no inflammation is detected with this very complex condition.
Accompanying the pain, other symptoms such as sleeplessness, lethargy, extreme fatigue, depression, difficulty in walking, sitting, or other physical activities, make life in general, poor and hard to cope with. For an active person, especially children, this can be really debilitating. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown.
OTHER FACTORS OF FIBROMYALGIA
There are many additional conditions either associated with or related to fibromyalgia. One of which is arthritis. Chronic pain in the joints, being a common link to arthritis, can be a little misleading. But when the pain starts to come from certain points of the body like pressure sensitive areas of the neck, shoulders, legs, arms, and back, the diagnosis then tends to lead to fibromyalgia. However, arthritis cannot be totally ruled out and would be considered a genuine contributing element.
Hypothyroidism can also be an underlying influence affecting fibromyalgia. Other components such as weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome, cognitive problems, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, palpitations or migraine headaches make a person consider questioning just what do they have?
TESTS FOR FIBROMYALGIA
Three months of body wide pain coupled with tenderness and pain in eleven out of eighteen
“hot spots”. Located at specific sites on the body, these tender areas cause pain when pressed with the fingertips, often sending the pain down into another direction. For example: pressing the elbow sends the pain into the lower or upper arm.
There are nine pairs of tender points.
One area is behind the ear and at the back of the neck, where the muscles in the neck are attached to the skull. Additional tender spot locations are: halfway between the base of the neck and the tip of the shoulder, above the collarbone in front of the neck, a region where the muscles of the back attach to the shoulder blades, either side of the breastbone (sternum) a couple inches below the collarbone, just below and to the outside crease of the elbow on each forearm, just above and to the outside of each buttock, on the inside of the knees, and when standing just behind the bony part of the hip on the upper outside of the leg.
Following the American College of Rheumatology guidelines, people must have pain in 11 of the 18 tender points to be accurately diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Many patients, however, have been diagnosed displaying less than 11 of these trigger points. It takes about 5 years on average to get an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
TREATMENT OF FIBROMYALGIA
Fibromyalgia can be treated in many ways to help cope with or manage the pain involved with this condition. Forums on the internet have provided a vast insight on the means to find relief. Speaking to your doctor also has been beneficial for options concerning remedies, traditional or alternative. Besides using drugs, physical therapy, light to moderate exercise and fitness programs have all helped people deal with the pain. Light massage, stress-relieving whirlpool hot tub spas, and the desire and ability to engage in relaxing activities such as hobbies, reading, playing cards or simply gazing out over pleasant landscapes or views can help relieve and or cope with fibromyalgia.
As with all maladies, it is absolutely necessary to seek a physician’s help. Treatments can vary and what may work for you might not be recommended for another. Support groups can often be a great source of ideas relating to relief and or management of this syndrome. Hang in there, you are not alone. Research is continuously being made and one day will pay off.