Fibromyalgia causes chronic, long-term muscle/joint pain and fatigue. The pain can be mild or severe and come and go. Although there is no known cause for this condition, factors like genetics and stress could predispose someone toward the disease. There is no permanent cure for fibromyalgia, but lifestyle changes, medications, and other therapies provide relief from the condition.
How common is fibromyalgia?
Over 2% of the U.S. population or an estimated 4-million people in the country have fibromyalgia.
Who might get fibromyalgia?
Although anyone can get the condition, women are twice more prone to fibromyalgia than men. Children can also get the disease, but symptoms are more common during the middle ages of life. Over 20% of patients who have chronic disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or sarcoidosis can also accompany fibromyalgia.
Causes and symptoms
What causes fibromyalgia?
Medical experts are still not familiar with why people get this condition. Although it seems to run in families, certain events may bring on symptoms including:
. Poor sleep
. Medical conditions such as viral infections
. Stressors such as abuse, traumatic life events, accidents, and premature birth
. Lack of exercise
What are the common symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Widespread muscle, joint pain, and fatigue are the main symptoms of the condition. On the other hand, poor sleep is another defining symptom of fibromyalgia. The condition can affect different patients in different ways. Some patients may also experience:
. Digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhoea
. Anxiety or depression
. Memory problems
. Face and temporomandibular disorders (jaw pain)
. Migraines and headaches
. Numbness or a tingling sensation in the feet or hands
What triggers an attack?
Certain factors can bring on a flare-up, especially factors that increase the levels of stress in the patient. Some of these factors include:
. Poor diet or dietary changes
. Changes to the patient’s daily routine
. Lack of sleep
. Hormone fluctuations
. Treatment changes
. Work-related, illness, and emotional stress
. Temperature or weather changes
. Changes in sleep patterns such as shift work
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There is no specific test to diagnose fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is clinically based on the symptoms you exhibit and a physical examination. Blood tests will exclude other causes of fatigue such as thyroid disease or anaemia. The diagnosis of the condition will mainly rely on your medical and family history plus symptoms.
Patients with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain that wouldn’t bother a normal person. The healthcare provider will assess the number of tender points or areas that are highly sensitive to touch in your body. If you have had widespread pain for more than three months along with symptoms like fatigue, poor sleep, memory issues, concentration difficulties, and depression, you should immediately consult your healthcare provider.
Management and treatment
How is fibromyalgia managed or treated?
There isn’t a permanent cure for fibromyalgia. Here are some medications and lifestyle changes to improve your symptoms:
. Cognitive behavioural therapy
. Improved sleep habits
. Strength training and exercises
. Over-the-counter or prescribed pain medications
. Stress management techniques
What are the complications of fibromyalgia?
Although the condition isn’t life-threatening, it can be challenging to live with constant muscle pain and fatigue. You may experience a lesser quality of life if the condition isn’t treated or managed properly. For more information on how to manage/treat fibromyalgia, you may want to check out Ability Today.
How can I prevent fibromyalgia?
You cannot take concrete steps to prevent fibromyalgia since medical experts still don’t know what causes the condition. But it is a good idea to:
. Consume a balanced and nutritious diet
. Minimise your stress levels
. Get enough sleep
. Maintain a healthy weight
. Exercise regularly and stay active
. Manage depression, arthritis, and conditions that could trigger the symptoms of the condition
Prognosis / Outlook
What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with fibromyalgia?
Most patients will find relief with lifestyle changes and medications. Symptoms may go away once you reduce stress and return during stressful times. A small percentage of patients experience severe pain and fatigue that they may find it difficult to work.