Fibromyalgia is a long-term medical condition that causes pain all over the body. This medical condition is common for women and affects the bones and muscles.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are often misunderstood, as they are similar to the symptoms of many other muscle conditions. The most common symptom is muscle and joint pain that gets worse over time.
Fibromyalgia also affects one’s mood, fatigue levels, and can cause memory problems.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, a combination of medication, regular exercise, and managing stress can help relieve symptoms to help patients continue to carry out daily activities.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
The primary cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown. However, doctors believe the presence of certain chemicals at abnormal levels in the brain cause changes to the way the central nervous system processes pain signals that are transmitted throughout the body.
However, what triggers these chemicals is still unclear.
According to research, people from the following groups have a greater risk of developing fibromyalgia:
- Rarely exercise.
- Have been physically and emotionally abused.
- Have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Have a family member with the condition.
- Have mood problems, such as anxiety or depression.
- Have other painful diseases such as inflamed bones, joints, or infections.
When to See a Doctor for Fibromyalgia?
Patients who experience fibromyalgia symptoms should consult a rheumatologist, a specialist doctor who deals with joint, muscle and soft tissue problems.
First, the doctor will conduct an examination and ask about the patient’s medical history and family history. Subsequently, the doctor will try to diagnose the patient’s condition.
In the past, the examination for fibromyalgia was done by examining eighteen specific points on the patient’s body to see how many of them caused pain when pressed firmly. However, such examinations are no longer necessary.
There are no tests that can be done to confirm that someone has fibromyalgia. However, the doctor can perform tests to rule out other possible conditions from the symptoms being experienced. One such test is the blood test – to assess hormone levels and test for signs of inflammation in the body.
A blood test involves:
- Thyroid function test.
- Rheumatoid factor test.
- Complete blood count.
- Calculating the erythrocyte sedimentation rate
In some cases, fibromyalgia is triggered by physical and emotional factors, such as:
- Giving birth.
- Undergo ingsurgery.
- End of a relationship.
- Presence of injury and infection.
- The death of a loved one.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain that radiates throughout the body. In addition, people with this condition may also experience:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle rigidity.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
- Problems with mental processes, such as problems with concentration and memory.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a digestive problem that causes stomach upset and bloating.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are very similar to those of lupus, arthritis, and thyroid gland problems. However, unlike other diseases, the symptoms caused by fibromyalgia are spread throughout the body and do not focus on one specific area.
Some of the other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea.
- Increased frequency to urinate
- Dryness in the mouth, nose and eyes.
- Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, or feet.
Treatment for Fibromyalgia
There is no exact cure for fibromyalgia. However, there are treatments that can be done to relieve symptoms and help patients carry on with their daily activities.
Treatment of fibromyalgia focuses on medication and therapy. Medications can help reduce the pain caused by fibromyalgia and improve sleep. These medications include:
- Pain relievers. You can get pain relieving medications based on your doctor’s prescription or you may purchase them at a pharmacy. Even though it can be found at the pharmacy, you may still need advice from a doctor before consuming it. Narcotics-based pain relievers are not recommended, as they can be addictive.
- Antidepressant drugs. This can help relieve pain and fatigue due to fibromyalgia. The doctor will prescribe drugs such as amitriptyline or cyclobenzaprine as a muscle relaxant to make it easier for you to sleep.
- Anti-seizure medications. This can be consumed to treat epilepsy, but is also useful for reducing certain types of pain. Anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin can help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.
Apart from medications, treatment for fibromyalgia patients can also come in the form of engaging in regular sports activities to improve one’s fitness. Doctors will recommend low-impact exercise to enhance endurance and strengthen muscles. Examples of such low-impact exercises include yoga, pilates, and even just walking. Such exercise is important, as it not only relieves fibromyalgia symptoms, but also releases endorphins to combat pain, stress, and feelings of sadness.
Endorphins released during exercise also help patients to sleep better.
There are also various therapies that can be done to relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. These therapies include:
- Physical therapy. Performed along with sports activities, guided by a special therapist. The therapist may recommend underwater exercise.
- Occupational therapy. Conducted by a therapist to help patients make adjustments to the work area and how to reduce stress on the body.
- Counseling. This may help strengthen beliefs and positive thinking patterns to help patients deal with stressful situations and manage stress.
Treatment Cost for Fibromyalgia
The cost for fibromyalgia treatment varies, depending on the severity and treatment method used.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of fibromyalgia treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Fibromyalgia
People who are at risk of developing fibromyalgia are those who:
- Are female.
- Are genetically predisposed – have family members who have experienced fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Have other health problems such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus
People in the risk factor categories can take preventive measures by maintaining their health and managing stress. Eating healthily and exercising regularly can also help lower the risk of developing fibromyalgia.
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia patients can improve their condition by paying attention to their personal health conditions, both physical health and emotional health. Start by making small changes to your daily life, such as incorporating regular exercise and having good sleeping patterns.