Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes a person to experience pain all over their body, which is known as widespread pain. This chronic pain can lead to other problems such as insomnia, fatigue, and mental health problems.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia and scientists are not completely sure what causes the condition. But what they do know is that those who have it often have a heightened sensitivity to pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 2% of the U.S. adult population are affected by fibromyalgia.
What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The most obvious symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain, but there are other symptoms associated with the condition too, including:
- difficulty sleeping
- muscle stiffness
- trouble concentrating
- increased sensitivity to pain
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- pain in the jaw or face.
Who is at Risk of Getting Fibromyalgia?
As the exact cause is unknown it can be hard to tell who is at risk of getting fibromyalgia, but scientists think that there is a link to those with abnormal levels of some brain chemicals as well as changes to the way in which some people’s central nervous system processes pain. It is also thought that there is a genetic link with the condition often running in families.
Fibromyalgia can occur in people of all ages, but it is more common in adults, and the condition becomes much more likely as people get older. It is thought that women are twice as likely to have fibromyalgia than men and those with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus are also more likely to have fibromyalgia. There may also be other risk factors, but more research is needed. These factors include:
- viral infections
- repetitive injuries on a particular joint
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
A doctor does not have any diagnostic tools to determine if a person has fibromyalgia so they will usually run diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions first. The physician will base the diagnosis on the results of these tests as well as the patient’s medical history.
The treatment for fibromyalgia can consist of many different strategies, depending on the individual being treated. Often, when the condition is suspected, the physician will refer the patient to see special pain management physicians, like those who work at pain clinic KindlyMD.
The reason for such a referral is that pain management physicians will do more than just treat the symptoms of the condition. They are experts when it comes to diagnosing different types of pain, and even when the cause is not immediately obvious, they will work with the patient to get to the root cause.
Some people do not respond to traditional medications or even stronger painkillers, and it may then be necessary for them to be given trigger point injection (TPI) to relieve the pain. Other treatments may also be used, which might include:
- aerobic exercise
- muscle strengthening exercises
- massage therapy
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Group therapy sessions can sometimes help those with fibromyalgia in that they can talk to other people with the condition who will understand what they are going through. These group sessions can also be a way of sharing what does and does not work.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition affecting around 4 million people in the U.S. The condition causes pain all over the body, but there is no exact known cause. The good news is that there are many treatment options available that include more than just over the counter or prescription medication.