Living with Fibromyalgia
Many people suffer from a condition called fibromyalgia (FMS). It has been classified as a syndrome or disorder rather than a disease because an exact cause cannot be found. Sufferers of this condition experience chronic pain, ranging from mild and annoying to very severe and debilitating, in the joints and muscles of the body. This is no fun especially if you’re an active person involved with sports, children or family activities and events. It also causes loss of work or school and can cost not only monetarily but also emotionally and physically.
Who Is At Risk?
Millions of people worldwide suffer from fibromyalgia. Studies show that more women than men seem to acquire this condition. This may be because women tend to be stressed out more than men. Stress is a hazard in many occupations and has been linked with fibromyalgia.
Moreover, people who have a family history showing relatives with similar pain experiences of this condition are more prone to develop fibromyalgia. This is very important information to give your doctor because it will help in diagnosing the problem more quickly. People with other autoimmune diseases such as Lupus or arthritis also might develop fibromyalgia as a by-product of the other diseases.
It is only recently that fibromyalgia has been recognized as a neurological condition. In the past most doctors would pass it off as another disease or arthritis and sometimes even told their patients that they were imagining the pain. Now with the help of the American College of Rheumatology, a guideline for physicians to diagnose fibromyalgia is now a reality. This was much needed because there are no tests, such as X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans or blood work, that reveal the presence of this disorder.
One such guideline is the occurrence of pain located in 11 out of 18 pairs of pressure points which are on both sides of the body. These areas, also known as trigger points are in the elbows, knees, hips, buttocks, lower back, chest, below the collar bone, and in the front and back of the neck. When pressure is applied to these areas the pain intensifies and sometimes feels like it radiates to another direction.
Another indicator of fibromyalgia is the hypersensitivity of the skin when touched. Some patients have an issue with how clothing feels on their skin. The slightest rub induces such pain that it sometimes makes one wonder about the quality of life. This is fortunately a severe type and not to common.
Other symptoms that also tag along are sleeping disorders, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Lupus, arthritis, fatigue, numbness and tingling of the face and cognitive difficulties, better known as fibro-fog, stiffness in movement, depression, and anxiety.
Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Unfortunately there isn’t any cure for fibromyalgia but many people have learned to live around it and cope with it using different methods. Many doctors prescribe medications and it would be advisable to check with your doctor to see which one would work for you. Over-the-counter remedies sometime work depending on how mild or severe the pain is and should be considered by your physician also.
Talking to your doctor and finding other options to deal with the pain is a plus. Locating and joining a support group can really be encouraging in learning to cope with this disorder. There are so many avenues of treatment and therapy that could reduce the pain and the occurrences of flare-ups that are shared in these groups which might make life a little more enjoyable.
Stay active to remain flexible, mobile and reduce stiffness. Light to moderate exercise is better than none. Exercises that are of low-impact in nature are recommended. Aquatic aerobics are excellent because there isn’t any pressure put on the joints or muscles and the water itself is therapeutic. Walking is good if you can do it. Just start out slow and don’t overdo it. Simple activities such as shopping, riding a bicycle, walking the dog or doing some yard work can also be good.
Finding a balance between work, play and rest; setting some goals, keeping a journal as to what activity is done or what caused a flare-up or what reduced the pain is also beneficial. In addition, try following a schedule developed by an occupational therapist. By learning to adapt techniques and better sleep hygiene along with staying fit and eating right, fibromyalgia sufferers can enjoy life better. It all depends on the person because we are all different and all of us don’t suffer the same way. Listen to your body and know your limitations. Stay positive in attitude and life can be good.