Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects five million Americans age 18 and older. Of the large population impacted by this condition, approximately 80-90 percent are women. Although rare, men and children may also develop the condition. Most of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are middle-aged.
The fibromyalgia condition is characterized by pain in the muscles, tendons, and joints throughout the entire body. Primary pain and aching is found along the spine. The condition is not associated with nerve or muscle injury or any disease or serious bodily damage. The most common tender points are areas along the neck, shoulders, spine, hips, and legs. When pressure is applied, these hotspots present pain.
A person with fibromyalgia experiences measurable changes in body chemistry. These changes are responsible for certain symptoms, especially pain and tenderness. When a person is impacted by stress that continues without relief, the body does not have time to decompress or relax. The body has limited time to prepare for the next challenge it faces. This time is often referred to as distress. A time of distress triggers various physical reactions that are not beneficial to the body. These triggers often promote symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
As previously mentioned, pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia. Other related symptoms that may occur, along with pain, include:
- Constipation followed by bouts with diarrhea
- Disordered sleep as the individual experiences both conscious and subconscious tension
- Increased sensitivity to bright lights, sunshine, odor, and sound
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Lower pain threshold, heightened perception of pain
- Memory loss or difficult remembering things
- Weak feelings in the extremities
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Individual treatment plans are necessary for patients with fibromyalgia. The treatment is based on the individual’s health, prior medical history, tender points, and pain level. Treatment may include medication that reduces pain and improves sleep as well as lifestyle changes to help eliminate stress. Cardiovascular exercise is needed to improve heart and lung health. Due to the exacerbation of pain and tenderness in certain areas of the back and hips, relaxation techniques are beneficial to relieve muscle tension.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications used to treat rheumatic conditions, such as arthritis. These medications have proven to be beneficial for those suffering from tender points associated with fibromyalgia. Other medications, such as acetaminophen, anti-depressant drugs, and sleep aids are also helpful.
Is there a Cure?
While there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of development and prevent the condition from worsening. Removing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps reduce flare-ups. A good diet combined with adequate rest and safe exercise prevents the medical condition from taking over your life. If you suspect fibromyalgia and are impacted with symptoms associated with the condition, see your doctor today for answers.
Most people with fibromyalgia experience flare-ups in symptoms during stress. If life is stressful for you, contact Henry Ford Macomb Rheumatology at (586) 739-4328 and see what treatment is available for you.