Diagnosis and Treatment of Fibromyalgia
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes aches
and pain all over the body. It is a chronic (sometimes unremitting)
condition of pain, stiffness, often associated with significant
Fibromyalgia affects millions people in the
US. Fibromyalgia appears to affect between 2% to 13% of the
population. Generally 80% to 90% are women during the period of
middle age of their life although symptoms may start earlier. 10% -
20% are of men and children are also diagnosed.
There are Two types of Fibromyalgia
- Primary Fibromyalgia: Often referred to
as idiopathic, as there are no known causes.
- Secondary fibromyalgia: Where a cause can
Primary fibromyalgia is the most common type
diagnosed. Many experts believe that fibromyalgia is not a disease
but rather a chronic pain condition brought on by several abnormal
body responses to stress. Physical injury, emotional trauma, or
viral infections such as Epstein-Barr are also suspected as triggers
for this disorder. Unfortunately, none have proven to be a cause of
Why Does Fibromyalgia Occur?
The exact causes of fibromyalgia are not
known. It has been linked to one or more of the following:
- Emotional or physical stress
- Traumatic events such as a car accident
- Infections or other illness
- Lack of restful sleep.
Women who have a family member with
fibromyalgia are more likely to have it themselves. It is not known
if this is due to hereditary or environmental factors, learned or
suggested behavior or all or these.
Symptoms Most Commonly Associated with Fibromyalgia
Muscle and joint stiffness, joint
Neurologic and psychological complaints
Numbing or tingling sensations
Problems with the digestive system,
especially trouble swallowing, recurrent abdominal pain, or
Sicca symptoms also known as Sjogren
syndrome, dry eyes, dry mouth, with or without rheumatoid
arthritis, lupus, scleroderma or polymyositis.
- Pain is the main symptom
- Generalized fatigue and/or tiredness
- Chronic headache
- Sleep disturbance
You May Also Experience:
- Problems with thinking and remembering
- Feelings of depressed, anxiety or
- Feeling dizzy or light headed
- Feeling cold
- Upset stomach
- Exercise intolerance
- Women often experience painful
The aches, pains, and stiffness in muscles, joints, and other parts
of the body vary from day to day or week to week. The pain also
tends to move from one part of the body to another. It is most
common in the neck, chest, arms, legs, hips, and back.
People with fibromyalgia also are tender
throughout the body. The tenderness is most noticed at certain
places called tender points. Tender points are specific places on
the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt
when pressure is put on them.
The symptoms may get worse with overexertion
or when the weather is damp and cold. Younger adults with
fibromyalgia are more likely to have chronic headaches, anxiety, and
symptoms worsened by weather, mental stress, or poor sleep.
How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
There is no single test for fibromyalgia.
Diagnosis is generally based on the pattern of symptoms.
Major Criteria for Diagnosis
- Generalized aches and stiffness of at
least 3 anatomic sites for at least 3 months
- Six or more typical, reproducible tender
- Exclusion of other disorders that can
cause similar symptoms
- Generalized fatigue
- Chronic headache
- Sleep disturbance
- Neurologic and psychological complaints
- Joint swelling
- Numbing or tingling sensations
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Variation of symptoms in relation to
activity, stress, and weather changes
In order to make the diagnosis of fibromyalgia one must fulfill all
three Major Criteria and four or more Minor Criteria or abnormal
tenderness at 11 or more 18 specific anatomic tender point (TnP)
How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?
There is no approved medicine that can cure
fibromyalgia. The most successful treatment for fibromyalgia is a
healthy diet, regular exercise, and rest. Stress reduction is
essential. A correct exercise program is also essential. Techniques
to help and improve sleep are valuable. Certain medications, dietary
supplements and herbal treatments can be very helpful.
If you think you have fibromyalgia or know
that you do and need help set up an appointment with a caring and competent
physician who can help you. For more information, call
805-435-1200 and make an appointment for help.