How to Treat Fibromyalgia
Classified as a neurological disorder, fibromyalgia (FMS) is best known as a chronic painful condition affecting the soft connecting tissues such as tendons and ligaments in the joints and muscles all over the body. Actually it has something to do with the misfiring of the pain receptors in the nerves. Instead of normal pain being felt, the nerve endings transmit to the brain exaggerated messages of pain resulting in the intensification of the pain. Millions of people worldwide suffer from fibromyalgia.
How Do I Know I Have Fibromyalgia?
To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia is not as easy as it seems. Because it doesn’t show up in tests like CT scans, MRI’s, blood work, or x-rays, fibromyalgia has often been misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Confused with arthritis, hypothyroidism, and Lupus, this disorder has been dubbed the “invisible” ailment and leaves patients with 5 to 7 years before the diagnosis can be complete. It’s like a process of elimination in order to determine if it’s fibromyalgia. That’s just too long a time to suffer without knowing what you have.
Symptoms can vary from person to person but one symptom that is the common denominator for this disorder is the pain involving certain designated areas called pressure points on both sides of the body. Called trigger points as well, these regions are located in the front and back of the neck, the knees, elbows, hips, buttocks, lower back, below the sternum in the chest, and below the collar bone at the second rib. When pressed upon with the fingertips these trigger points cause pain which intensifies and feels like it moves to another area. If the pain is felt for 3 months or more in duration a diagnosis is more likely to be that of fibromyalgia, however, it can be further complicated by having other conditions either underlying or contributing to the pain of fibromyalgia as in the case of Lupus or hypothyroidism and even arthritis. The overlapping of symptoms in other diseases makes it all the more confusing and lengthens the diagnosing time.
Several other symptoms such as sleeping disorders, fatigue, restless leg syndrome, cognitive problems in thinking and memory, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression along with overall malaise, and difficulty in moving around due to the pain, are all highly indicative of fibromyalgia.
What Kinds Of Treatments Are There?
The first kind of relief that most people tend to go for are the medications that are available to treat fibromyalgia. Some are simple, like ibuprophen or other over-the-counter pain relievers, which for some people do not work well. Prescribed medications do work better and a physician should be consulted as to which one works best for you.
Besides medications there are several ways to cope with and perhaps deter the onset of pain. Many sufferers will urge you to keep active. Light to moderate activity is needed to keep flexible and mobile otherwise you become stiff and unable to get around. It makes you feel good too. Activities that are low impact such as cycling or swimming are great because they don’t add any strain, pressure and weight to the joints and muscles. In fact, most people say the pain eases up with these exercises. The water alone is very therapeutic and relaxing. Jacuzzi pools and hot therapeutic baths are equally good for the stiffness associated with fibromyalgia.
Massages given by specially trained physical and occupational therapists are helpful too. Be sure they understand fibromyalgia thoroughly in order to benefit the most from their visits. Start slowly and don’t overdo it. It’s important to listen to your body and know your limitations.
A good support group would be ideal if you want to learn different approaches to cope with fibromyalgia. Ideas always stem from experience; after all, necessity is the mother of invention. There are so many people willing to share their understanding in having fibromyalgia by extending encouragement in how to get around and in skills to help make life a little easier. We are all so different and it would amaze you what people can do to alleviate the pain. Groups like this not only help the physical but also the emotional, mental and spiritual aspect of our being.
Daily activities like shopping, light yard work or walking the dog can also improve mobility. It’s additionally important to keep a positive attitude as this really affects your physical health. Also, watch what you eat. Certain foods can cause flare-ups and by keeping a journal as to what was eaten can lessen the incidence of fibromyalgia. Study yourself. You are what you eat, so they say.