What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is characterized by fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and issues with mood and memory. It affects females more than males, and it has been associated with irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, depression, and anxiety.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
The major symptoms of this condition are:
- Widespread, dull ache
- Cognitive disabilities (Fibro fog)
- Issues with concentrating, paying attention, and focusing
Fibromyalgia often exists alongside other conditions as well, which bring their own symptoms. These include migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety, interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndromes, chronic fatigue syndrome, TMJ disorders, and postural tachycardia syndrome.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Medical professionals aren’t exactly sure of the exact cause of fibromyalgia, but they suspect that the brain and spinal cord change over time due to repeated nerve stimulation. This change leads to an increase in chemicals that cause pain. Additionally, the pain receptors in the brain become sensitized, leading them to overreact to both painful and nonpainful signals. Numerous factors are believed to play a role in this, such as genetics, infections, and physical or emotional events.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There is one major factor that doctors look for when diagnosing fibromyalgia: widespread pain that lasts for a minimum of three months. Four of five areas in the body must be experiencing this pain in order for it to be considered widespread. These areas are the left and right upper regions, left and right lower regions, and the axial region.
Additionally, other tests may be used in order to rule out other conditions. These may include blood tests or overnight sleep studies.
What are the treatments for fibromyalgia?
A combination of self-care strategies and medication are recommended to treat this condition. Patients may benefit from anti-seizure drugs, pain relievers, and antidepressants. Counseling, physical therapy, and occupational therapy are often used as well. In terms of self-care strategies, doctors recommend managing stress, exercising regularly, practicing good sleep hygiene, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.