Fibromyalgia syndrome affects muscle and soft tissue, also known as “widespread pain”, and its symptoms are chronic pain throughout the body, fatigue, and sleep problems.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), fibromyalgia affects about 4 million American adults, about 2% of the adult population, the cause of fibromyalgia is not known but can be treated with medication and lifestyle change.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia symptoms vary from person to person and from day to day.
The most common fibromyalgia symptoms include:
• Chronic pain throughout the body
• Difficulty sleeping
• Pain in facial muscles and adjacent fibrous tissues
• Hardening joints and muscles in the morning
• painful menstrual periods
• Allergy to a cold or heat
• Difficulties in memory and concentration
The least common fibromyalgia symptoms include:
• Vision problems
• Cold or flu-like symptoms
• Depression and anxiety
• Breathing problems
• Swelling of hands and feet
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and swelling.
It is not yet known what is the real fibromyalgia cause, but the researchers suggest an interaction between physical, neurological and psychological factors. Pain can get worse with depression or anxiety, and pain can lead to stress or anxiety as well.
People usually feel pain when a part of the body is damaged (as in arthritis) or suffers from a physical injury. However, because there is no physical damage caused by fibromyalgia, it is difficult to treat, which is why the pain caused by fibromyalgia can be chronic.
Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to physical stress. This means that may be relatively little pain for most people who can be very painful for a person with fibromyalgia. This increased sensitivity is not fully understood but is believed to be associated with changes in the way the nervous system treats the pain.
Fibromyalgia Risk Factor
Fibromyalgia risk factors include:
• Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
• Sex, women are more likely to have fibromyalgia than men.
• Car accidents
• Injury from recurrent tension, such as frequent knee bending
• Emotional trauma
• Family history of fibromyalgia
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose because symptoms are similar to those of others, such as hypothyroidism or autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Currently, there are no specific blood tests, x-rays or tests that can confirm fibromyalgia diagnosis.
The American College of Rheumatology has developed three criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia:
- A widespread pain lasts three months or more.
- Fatigue and/or wake up exhausted.
- Problems in thinking processes such as memory and understanding.
Although there is currently no treatment for fibromyalgia, the treatment is to alleviate some of the symptoms. Fibromyalgia treatment is usually by a combination of the following:
- Drugs, such as antidepressants and painkillers
- Exercise and muscle strengthening.
- Lifestyle changes, such as exercise programs and relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, and massage).
- Good sleep habits to improve the quality of sleep.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of primary depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of modern therapy to change people behavior and thinking.
Complications of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia can cause pain and disability, and people with fibromyalgia may have complications such as:
• Sleep disorders or insomnia.
• Sleep apnea.
• Inability to work effectively at school or in personal life (household).
• Mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression.