Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is often misunderstood. It is associated with muscular pains and tenderness that comes and goes. It is often associated with fatigue and sleep disturbances. Though it tends to be long-lasting, fibromyalgia is not life-threatening.

CAUSES

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. People with certain gene types are predisposed to developing fibromyalgia and other conditions. Certain factors can play a role as triggers, such as:

  • Spine disorders.

  • Arthritis.

  • Severe injury (trauma) and other physical stressors.

  • Emotional stressors.

SYMPTOMS

  • The main symptom is pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints, which can vary over time.

  • Sleep and fatigue problems.

Other related symptoms may include:

  • Bowel and bladder problems.

  • Headaches.

  • Visual problems.

  • Problems with odors and noises.

  • Depression or mood changes.

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea).

  • Dryness of the skin or eyes.

DIAGNOSIS

There are no specific tests for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Patients can be diagnosed accurately from the specific symptoms they have. The diagnosis is made by determining that nothing else is causing the problems.

TREATMENT

There is no cure. Management includes medicines and an active, healthy lifestyle. The goal is to enhance physical fitness, decrease pain, and improve sleep.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your caregiver. Sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and pain medicines may make your problems worse.

  • Low-impact aerobic exercise is very important and advised for treatment. At first, it may seem to make pain worse. Gradually increasing your tolerance will overcome this feeling.

  • Learning relaxation techniques and how to control stress will help you. Biofeedback, visual imagery, hypnosis, muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation are all options.

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines and physical therapy may provide short-term help.

  • Acupuncture or massage treatments may help.

  • Take muscle relaxant medicines as suggested by your caregiver.

  • Avoid stressful situations.

  • Plan a healthy lifestyle. This includes your diet, sleep, rest, exercise, and friends.

  • Find and practice a hobby you enjoy.

  • Join a fibromyalgia support group for interaction, ideas, and sharing advice. This may be helpful.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

You are not having good results or improvement from your treatment.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

National Fibromyalgia Association: www.fmaware.org

Arthritis Foundation: www.arthritis.org