IS FIBROMYALGIA REAL?
Fibromyalgia can best be described as a chronic pain disorder affecting the muscles and fibrous connective tissues of the joints throughout the entire body. The pain can be mild and annoying to severe and quite crippling. It tends to worsen with time and if left untreated can be very debilitating. In the past medical professionals believed it was a condition that was a figment of the patient’s imagination and often the person would start believing that what he or she was suffering from was “all in my head”. Well, it has been studied and proved that fibromyalgia is a very real disease. Researchers are finding new information of this malady every day and it’s up to the physicians to stay in touch with this new found information to competently treat fibromyalgia in their patients.
Besides being classified as a neuropsychiatric condition, this disease is also a complicated musculoskeletal syndrome which can lead to misdiagnosing the problem. In some cases fibromyalgia may be the by-product of another ailment rather than the underlying cause. This is why a certain method of recognizing fibromyalgia symptoms has been approved to help diagnose this disorder from other possible diseases.
People suffering with widespread body pain along with stiffness, usually felt in the early morning hours, should seek a doctor familiar with fibromyalgia. After a general exam, the physician then should focus on certain areas on both sides of the body that produce pain when touched, especially when pressure is applied. These areas are commonly referred to as “pressure or trigger points”. Found in pairs, there are approximately 9 areas that have been documented as being totally fibromyalgia-like in nature.
The trigger points are distributed around the neck, the shoulders, in the elbows and knees, the hips and lower back. When pressure is applied to them, the pain intensifies and seems to radiate from the centralized area to another. For example: when the elbow is touched, the pain then goes up or down the arm.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include fatigue. Not the normal “I’m tired “fatigue, but a really severe tiredness that makes you want to do nothing. Additional symptoms are the lack of sleep or inability to sleep well, gastrointestinal and bladder problems, difficulty swallowing, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, restless leg syndrome, migraines and cognitive problems in thinking or problem solving.
The direct causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, however, it has been alleged that abnormalities in the brain that have been inherited may be a source. The increased sensitivity in certain areas of the body often shows a history in some individuals. One thing is for certain: there is no cure.
FIBROMYALGIA AMONG OTHER DISEASES
Before fibromyalgia was determined a real distinctive disease other ailments have been thought to be the issue instead. A few ailments often mistaken or combined with fibromyalgia are listed below:
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Both of these diseases exhibit pain but can be differentiated from fibromyalgia when x-rays are examined and the degenerative evidence in the joints and spine are clearly seen. Fibromyalgia doesn’t cause disfigurement or malformation as arthritis sometimes does.
- Lupus erythematosus. This disorder has chronic inflammatory pain in the connective tissues of the joints also and with time, abnormalities in the major organ systems develop along with a rash on the skin causing more complications. Fibromyalgia doesn’t usually involve a rash.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, which is a chronic painful disorder of the spine, causes the spinal movement to be difficult and slow compared to the spinal movement in fibromyalgia patients. Again, x-rays will show the difference.
- Polymyalgia rheumatic is another chronic inflammatory disorder which can be mistaken for fibromyalgia because it causes stiffness in movement. However, this disorder is often associated with inflammation of certain large arteries and is ruled out by a blood test.
- Hypothyroidism has often been thought of as the underlying cause of fibromyalgia and with the help of thyroid function tests, can be decided as not a cause of fibromyalgia.
- Myositis or muscle disease. This is an inflammatory disorder of the muscles and is usually found in people with a higher than normal levels of muscle enzyme. It doesn’t have the widespread muscle pain as fibromyalgia does and causes weakness and fatigue instead of pain.
These are just a few of the assorted ailments often associated with fibromyalgia. It really makes it hard for a physician to accurately diagnose the problem. Talk to your doctor about other avenues of treatment and connect with a support group. Engage in relaxing activities and keep away from stress. Treatments may vary and the best advice is to search and find one that works for you.