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Fibromyalgia


What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness in the muscles and soft tissue (including tender points) as well as sleep problems, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms. These problems can be severe enough to disrupt a person's work and daily activities. Fortunately, the condition does not permanently damage the muscles, joints, or internal organs.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome of chronic pain, not a disease or a psychological disorder.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

There are theories as to what may cause Fibromyalgia, but at this point there is not enough evidence to support any single cause. Some theories suggest that Fibromyalgia may be related to oversensitive nerve cells, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters), or an inability of the brain or spinal cord to dampen pain signals.

What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Most people with Fibromyalgia endure cycles of muscle, soft tissue, and back or neck pain, sleep problems, and often debilitating fatigue. Fibromyalgia is also characterized by the presence of up to 18 specific tender points on the body—these are painful only when you press directly on them.

Although less common than pain, fatigue, and sleep problems, a variety of other symptoms may occur as well. These include headaches, morning stiffness, difficulty concentrating, a circulatory problem that affects the small blood vessels of the skin (Reynaud's phenomenon), and irritable bowel syndrome. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, anxiety and depression are common in people with Fibromyalgia and may make symptoms worse.

Symptoms tend to come and go. Periods when they are constant (flares) may be followed by periods when they are absent (remissions). Some people find that cold, damp weather, emotional stress, overexertion, and other factors make their symptoms worse.

How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose because there is a lot of variation in the combination of symptoms it causes and how different people experience the symptoms. Also, its symptoms are similar to those of many other disorders and diseases.

Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed after other conditions have been ruled out; there are no tests that can confirm the diagnosis. The presence of specific tender points as well as chronic, widespread pain on both sides of the body above and below the waist can help confirm a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

How is Fibromyalgia treated?

While there is no specific cure for Fibromyalgia, symptoms of this syndrome can be treated and controlled. If you have Fibromyalgia, taking an active role in your treatment is very important to managing your condition.

Treatment may be different for each individual. It can include:

    Regular exercise to help with muscle aches and stiffness.

   Changes in your routine, schedule, and surroundings to improve your sleep habits and reduce stress.

   Taking medications to help you sleep better and to relieve pain.

   Getting counseling to help you manage chronic pain and find better ways to handle stress.

Some people with Fibromyalgia also find complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques helpful.

 


 
 
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