estimated 4 million
OTHER FACTS ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA
Fibromyalgia is a condition that can be difficult to diagnose. Some patients spend years seeing many healthcare providers before they are diagnosed and get the help they need. Keep in mind, fibromyalgia is a condition that can be managed with proper treatment.
Most research suggests fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune or inflammation-based illness; it is thought that abnormal signaling of the nervous system is involved. You are at higher risk for fibromyalgia if you have a rheumatic disease – health problem impacting joints, muscles, or bones. Examples include osteoarthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis. Fibromyalgia, however, does not damage the joints and muscles.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA?
UNDERSTANDING THE SIGNS IS VITAL WHEN DIAGNOSING FIBROMYALGIA
Fibromyalgia symptoms can be different for each person
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
- People may feel tenderness to even slight pressure on muscles or around joints.
- Severe fatigue or sleep problems. Someone with fibromyalgia may not feel refreshed after sleeping all night
Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. For a full list of fibromyalgia symptoms visit the American College of Rheumatology website.
Fibromyalgia can affect the following areas of the body:
There are no diagnostic tests (such as blood tests, X-rays, urine tests) for fibromyalgia. Other diseases may cause widespread pain or fatigue. Healthcare providers may ask patients to describe their sleep, memory problems, and digestion. Blood tests and X-rays may be used to rule out other causes.
The American College of Rheumatology criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia requires the following conditions are met:
History of widespread pain/tenderness for at least 3 months
No other disorder that would otherwise explain the pain
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF FIBROMYALGIA?
EXACT CAUSE OF FIBROMYALGIA IS UNKNOWN
Some medical research has supported the theory of abnormal pain processing in fibromyalgia.
Existing evidence shows that fibromyalgia does not result in muscle inflammation.
Research studies involving functional brain scans have demonstrated fibromyalgia was associated with abnormal processing of pain signals in patients with fibromyalgia compared to those without fibromyalgia.
OTHER THEORETICAL CAUSES OF FIBROMYALGIA
Some research has suggested a causal link for genetics in fibromyalgia. The reason for this is that fibromyalgia tends to run in families. Research has shown that genes involved in pain processing cause some patients to react to pain more strongly than others.
Additionally, certain researchers have also linked fibromyalgia to emotional and physical trauma.
LIVING WITH FIBROMYALGIA
MAKING LIFESTYLE CHANGES CAN HELP MANAGE FIBROMYALGIA
It’s not always easy to manage fibromyalgia, but there are things you can do for yourself to help reduce symptoms.
Consider incorporating some of these approaches into your daily routine. Always consult your healthcare provider before incorporating any of these approaches into your treatment plan.
Regular exercise can help improve symptoms of fibromyalgia. Understandably, your symptoms may make it more challenging to exercise regularly, but it’s important to stay active. Before starting any exercise program, ask your healthcare provider about safe ways to exercise, and start slowly.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Many patients with fibromyalgia experience daily stress from having a chronic pain condition. CBT may help you consider alternative ways of thinking about and managing your condition. Studies have shown that adding CBT to a treatment regimen for fibromyalgia can actually reduce pain and improve function.
YOU & YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Being open and honest with your healthcare provider is key and is especially important when dealing with a condition like fibromyalgia. An important part of fibromyalgia diagnosis and effective treatment is finding a healthcare provider who is understanding and knowledgeable about the condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and are still looking for a healthcare provider to effectively treat your condition, you may consider seeing a specialist. Rheumatologists are often the specialists that treat fibromyalgia.