Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects millions of Americans annually mostly women and can be both physically and emotionally debilitating. Fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek words for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Fibromyalgia sufferers experience chronic muscle pain.
Fibromyalgia was once considered a mental disorder, but research has shown that individuals with the condition may have a lower threshold for pain. This might be from emotional distress harm, or levels of substances in the brain and spinal cord that are connected to pain sensitivity, but the specific cause is unclear.
Doctors have yet to discover the relationship between fibromyalgia and these other conditions.
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There may be a number of factors involved. It has been linked to:
- Stressful or traumatic events, such as car accidents
- Repetitive injuries
- Certain diseases.
Fibromyalgia can also occur on its own.
Some scientists think that a gene or genes might be involved. The genes could make a person react strongly to things that other people would not find painful.
Doctors have yet to determine a precise origin, though research findings are shedding light on the status. Causes include abnormalities in the endocrine and nervous systems, genetics, muscle tissue abnormalities, and abnormal blood flow.
Like many ailments, it is quite possible that fibromyalgia does not simply have one trigger; rather, many factors may affect your likelihood of developing the condition.
Scientists estimate that it affects 5 million Americans 18 or older. Between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age.
People with certain other diseases may be more likely to have fibromyalgia.
These diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus)
- Ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis).
Women who have a family member with fibromyalgia may be more likely to have it themselves.
Chronic widespread pain is the most frequent symptom. However, patients experience multiple symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. People with the condition may also have problems and anxiety and/or melancholy.
A person may have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions. Such conditions can include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Morning stiffness
- Painful menstrual periods
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”).
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Irritable bladder
- Migraine headaches
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Restless legs syndrome
- TMJ or Temporomandibular joint disease
It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.
The type of treatment you’ll need will depend on your symptoms. For example, your physician may prescribe an antidepressant address melancholy but also to not only reduce your pain. If you are worried or have trouble sleeping, an exercise program can help.
- Lyrica (pregabalin) is a nerve pain medicine
- Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride) an antidepressant which may help manage pain
- Savella (milnacipran HCI) is an antidepressant and drug for nerve pain
- Muscle relaxants
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Your primary care physician (PCP) may be able to diagnose and treat your condition. But if your PCP doesn’t understand enough about fibromyalgia, a specialist may be your best alternative.
Options include alternative treatments such as massage and biofeedback treatment to help manage stress. Your physician may recommend that you find a chiropractor, and a psychologist may address the psychological and emotional toll of the illness.
Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissue. Rheumatologists, arguably more than any other doctor, closely follow fibromyalgia developments and will probably have the best knowledge based on the condition.
A neurologist for medications to control your pain.
Another option is to consult a pain management physician. These physicians treat all forms of pain, including those caused by fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It’s important to find a doctor who is familiar with the disorder and its treatment. Many family physicians, general internists, can treat fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers. A pain or rheumatology clinic can be a good place to get treatment.
There are many things you can do to feel better, including:
- Taking medicines as prescribed
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well
- Making work changes if necessary.
The NIAMS sponsors research to help understand the condition and find better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent it. Researchers are studying:
- Why people with fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to pain.
- Medicines and behavioral treatments.
- Whether there is a gene or genes that make a person more likely to have it.
- The use of imaging methods, such as magnetic resonate imaging (MRI), to better understand.
- Inflammation in the body and its relationship.
- Nondrug therapies to help reduce pain.
- Methods to improve sleep in people.
Individuals affected by fibromyalgia are women, although men and even children can develop the painful condition. From widespread pain to fatigue and concentration issues, these common reported symptoms associated with the condition often cause confusion and misunderstanding in the medical field. Being aware of the facts of fibromyalgia can help you understand the condition and learn how to manage its symptoms.