Fibromyalgia is a condition that effects the muscular system. It
causes severe pain of the muscles, joints and tendons. It can also cause
stiffness and tenderness to these areas of the body. Fibromyalgia is
one of the most common muscular system conditions but little is known
about this disease. Fibromyalgia was formerly known as Fibrositis and
may still be referred to this by some patients and doctors.
Who is Affected by Fibromyalgia?
Although potentially anyone can develop this condition, it primarily affects women between the ages of 35 to 55 years of age. It has also been seen in men, children and the elderly. In fact 80% of the diagnosed cases are of women in this age group.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The main symptom of Fibromyalgia is pain. This pain is not associated with inflammation like other muscular pain disorders. Instead it is believed to be a sensory stimuli issue. Patients with Fibromyalgia have a lower tolerance to pain. Even the slightest touch which would not even bring discomfort to a normal person can cause severe, debilitating pain to a Fibromyalgia patient. Pressure points on the body when touched can cause wide spread pain all over the body.
Patients with Fibromyalgia also complain of fatigue. This is believed to be due to the fact that during their sleep they never reach the deepest levels of the sleep cycle. Sleep studies show that these patients while asleep do not get a rejuvenating sleep.
Half of the patients with Fibromyalgia also suffer from emotional and mental disturbances. These symptoms include irritability, mood changes, poor concentration, forgetfulness, depression and anxiety. Because of these symptoms many patients are commonly misdiagnosed at first with having severe depression as the underlying cause to their symptoms rather than fibromyalgia.
There are also other symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia. These symptoms include:
- Tension Headaches
- Numbness or tingling of different body parts
- Abdominal Pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome or a Spastic Colon
- Frequent and painful urination
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia remains a mystery to Physicians. The cause of Fibromyalgia pain is still unknown, although it is thought to be related to the central nervous system which is why there is no sign of inflammation, tissue damage or organ damage in fibromyalgia patients. Studies have shown that Fibromyalgia patients are super sensitive to stimulation. This makes even the slightest touch unbearably painful for them. There is evidence of elevated levels of a nerve chemical signal called substance P and of a nerve growth factor which is found in the spinal fluid. Patients with Fibromyalgia also have decreased levels of serotonin, which is a brain nerve chemical.
Fibromyalgia Alternative Treatments
Over the counter pain medication such as NSAID’s has a limited effect on pain associated with Fibromyalgia. They may be taken according to the directions and should not be increased. If these pain medication do not work to relieve the pain then a prescription pain medication can be obtained by a Doctor.
There are several things that can be done to alternatively treat fibromyalgia. Patient awareness and education is the first step. This can help patients research possible treatments and also connect with others who suffer from the same disease.
Exercise has also been proven to help patients with fibromyalgia. It helps with the fatigue associated with the disease. By moderately exercising at least three days a week patients reported they were more rested after sleeping. It is also important for fibromyalgia patients to avoid the use of caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
Stress relief is also important to help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia may be triggered by extreme stress, therefore eliminating that stress may reduce the symptoms.
Medical Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can be a very difficult disease. It shows no signs other than what the patient is feeling. There are no tests to diagnose fibromyalgia. It can take years to get a fibromyalgia diagnoses. This usually occurs after the physicians have exhausted all other tests and possible options. You should see a medical professional as soon as you begin experiencing pain. This will allow the doctor to follow the progression and hopefully give you a diagnosis a little faster.
The only treatments for fibromyalgia is through prescription medication. The use of antidepressants have been proven to help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Prozac and Ativan are two of the preferred medications used. They work to block the nerves from breaking down serotonin so there are more levels remaining within the brain. These medications are used at lower doses than when prescribed as an antidepressant. The use of prescribed pain killers is also effective for fibromyalgia patients. Tramadol is the preferred prescription by doctors. It has fewer side effects on the stomach than prolonged use of NSAID’s. Lyrica became the first drug in 2007 prescribed solely for fibromyalgia. Acupuncture is also a possible treatment for fibromyalgia. Some patients have reported it has helped with pain relief.