The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia, also called fibrositis, involves chronic, widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body, usually accompanied by fatigue (feeling tired). This disease is fairly common, affecting approximately two to four percent of the U.S. population, mostly women of childbearing age. Fibromyalgia can also affect teenagers and adolescents.
Although its symptoms are similar to other joint diseases, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia is actually a form of soft tissue or muscular rheumatism. Fibromyalgia is one of several pain syndromes included in the classification of musculoskeletal pain syndrome (MSPS), or pain amplification syndrome.
What causes or triggers fibromyalgia?
Although the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers believe there may be a link with sleep disturbance, psychological stress, or immune, endocrine or biochemical abnormalities. Fibromyalgia mainly affects the muscles and the points at which the muscles attach to the bone (at the ligaments and tendons).
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Pain is the most common and chronic symptom of fibromyalgia. Pain may begin in one area of the body, such as the neck and shoulders, but eventually the entire body may become affected. The pain ranges from mild to severe and may be described as burning, soreness, stiffness, aching, or gnawing pain. Fibromyalgia usually is associated with characteristic tender spots of pain in the muscles.
The following are other common symptoms of fibromyalgia; each individual may experience symptoms differently:
- Moderate to severe fatigue
- Decreased exercise endurance
- Sleep problems at night
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Diarrhea, alternated with constipation (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Urinary urgency
The symptoms of fibromyalgia may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your Hurley physician for a diagnosis or with any questions.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There are no laboratory tests that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Instead, diagnosis is usually based on patients reporting their symptoms, and after doctors have ruled out other conditions.
How is fibromyalgia treated?
Specific treatment for fibromyalgia will be determined by your physician based on the following:
- Your age, overall health and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinions or preferences
Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, in many cases the disease can be managed and symptoms reduced with proper treatment. Fibromyalgia does not cause damage to tissues.
Treatment may include the following:
- Anti-inflammatory medications (to relieve pain and improve sleep)
- Medications that are approved specifically for treating fibromyalgia
- Exercise and physical therapy (to stretch muscles and improve cardiovascular fitness)
- Relaxation techniques