Symptoms of fibromyalgia include the following:
- Widespread pain: The pain is constant and dull and lasts for at least three months. The pain occurs throughout the body, on both sides of the body, and below and above the waist.
- Fatigue: Patients with fibromyalgia are always tired, and they even wake up feeling tired despite sleeping for long periods of time. The pain can even cause sleep disturbance. Patients also have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea (temporary cessation of breathing during sleep).
- Cognitive difficulties: This is also referred to as “fibro fog.” Fibromyalgia affects the ability to focus and pay attention to mental tasks.
- Bladder problem: This includes increased urination.
- Mood swings: Anxiety, depression and mood swings may be severe in fibromyalgia.
Complications of fibromyalgia:
Fibromyalgia is typically not life threatening but can affect day-to-day activities. Pain, fatigue, and lack of sleep that occur in fibromyalgia can impair the ability to function or concentrate. Patients may also feel frustrated due to their condition, and this can lead to anxiety or depression.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread pain in the body accompanied by tiredness, sleep, memory lapses, and mood issues.
Symptoms may start after specific events called triggers. These include physical assault, emotional trauma such as death of a loved one, pregnancy, surgery, or serious illness. Sometimes, there may be no identifiable trigger.
Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men. Many patients with fibromyalgia may also have other associated conditions such as tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, or depression.
You must discuss the various treatment options for fibromyalgia with your doctor. It is possible improve the symptoms and quality of life with proper management.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but various factors are found to play a role in fibromyalgia. It is thought that chemical imbalance in the brain may cause the person to perceive even “touch” or “poke” as pain. The factors that make you likely for fibromyalgia may include the following:
- Genetics: Fibromyalgia has been found to run in families. There may be certain genetic mutations that increase the risk of this disorder.
- Infections: Certain systemic illnesses may trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma: Fibromyalgia can sometimes be triggered by acute psychological stress or physical trauma such as an accident.
Risk factors for fibromyalgia are as follows:
- Female sex: Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men.
- Family history: A positive family history increases the risk.
- Other disorders: Other conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus can increase the risk.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Your doctor must rely solely on your group of symptoms to make a diagnosis.
- Physical assessment by the physician for “tender points”
- Complete blood analysis to rule out other causes of muscle pain
How is fibromyalgia treated?
Treatment options for fibromyalgia are as follows:
- Pain killers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen), and prescription painkillers can help reduce symptoms. Narcotics are not usually used because they can lead to dependence and may worsen the pain over time.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants such as Cymbalta (duloxetine) or Savella (milnacipran) and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help reduce pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.
- Antiseizure medication: Medications used to treat epilepsy may be useful in reducing certain types of pain, for example, Lyrica (pregabalin).
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises that will improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina. Water-based exercises might be particularly helpful.
- Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can help you adjust your work area or the way you perform certain tasks that will cause less stress on your body.
- Stress management: Managing physical and emotional stress is essential in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Stress management techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation can help. Seeking help from a professional therapist may be required.
- Adequate sleep: Because fatigue is one of the characteristic presentations of fibromyalgia, sufficient rest and practicing good sleep hygiene are essential.
- Exercise and diet: Initially, exercise can increase pain, but exercising regularly reduces pain gradually. Exercises may include walking, swimming, biking, water aerobics, yoga, or dance. A physical therapist can help develop an exercise regimen. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and limiting caffeine intake are important in the management of fibromyalgia.
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