Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Fibromyalgia is a chronic neurological disorder that can cause widespread pain in the muscles and bones. Tenderness of touch, fatigue and sleep problems may also occur under this disease. There is no exact reason for fibromyalgia. But symptoms sometimes follow a physical trauma, surgery, infection or psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms may accumulate over time without any trigger.

In the United States, fibromyalgia affects about 2%-4% of people. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. It usually begins from middle adulthood, but it can also occur in the teens and the old age.

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, medications and other treatment options can help manage and control the symptoms.


Causes

The causes of fibromyalgia are unclear. Chances are that a variety of factors work together. These risk factors include:

  • Gene.

Fibromyalgia tends to run in families. So, if you have a family member with fibromyalgia, your risk of developing it is higher for some certain genetic mutations. However, those genes associated with fibromyalgia have not been found yet.

  • Sex.

Women are twice more likely to have fibromyalgia.

  • Infections.

Some health conditions can trigger fibromyalgia, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Physical trauma.

Fibromyalgia may be triggered by a physical trauma, such as a car accident.

  • Emotional trauma or psychological stress.

Stress can cause hormonal disorder, which may contribute to fibromyalgia. Effects from psychological stress are mostly long-reaching.


Symptoms

Generally, people with fibromyalgia may experience:

  • Chronic pain and stiffness all around the body
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Sleep problems
  • Tenderness to touch, meaning that patients are more sensitive to pain than others without fibromyalgia

Some less common signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Headache
  • Pain in abdomen or bladder
  • Joint disorders
  • Cognitive problems, such as inability to think, memorize and pay attention


Diagnosis

Traditionally, doctors may check the tender points to help with diagnosis. But now they usually make diagnosis depending on the family history and symptoms appearing in the individuals. If you have widespread pain lasting for more than three months and have no other conditions underlying it, doctors can make a fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are considered subjective, no lab tests can detect and confirm fibromyalgia. But you can do some tests, like blood tests and x-rays, to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms.


Treatment

There exists no certain cure for fibromyalgia. However, you can reduce the pain and control the symptoms with medications and non-drug treatments. Doctors suggest that you use them together.

Medication

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three drugs for treating fibromyalgia. They include:

They are antidepressant that may help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.

Pregabalin and gabapentin can block the over activity of nerve cells involved in pain transmission, thus reducing pain.

Besides, some over-the-counter pain relievers may be helpful in relieving widespread pain. Your doctor may also prescribe amitriptyline or the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine to help promote your sleep.

Non-medication

Non-medication suggestions for the treatment of fibromyalgia are:

  • Physical exercise.

Studies show that this is the most effective way to treat fibromyalgia. These exercises can help improve your strength, stamina and flexibility.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

This is a type of therapy aiming at improving mental health. It can help patients understand the thoughts and feelings affecting pain and other symptoms. Patients can learn how to identify and change destructive thoughts that have negative influences on their behaviors and emotions.

Acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy can be complementary and alternative therapies to physical exercise and CBT. They can be useful to manage fibromyalgia symptoms.


Keyword: fibromyalgia.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.