Fibromyalgia – Causes and pain management?

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic condition that is characterized by body pain. It is accompanied by several other symptoms such as mood swings and fatigue. While it isn’t life threatening, it can affect one’s lifestyle. The condition is believed to affect about 2% to 8% of the population. A combination of environmental and genetic factors is considered to increase the risk of fibromyalgia.

Causes of fibromyalgia
There is no known cause of fibromyalgia, but it is believed to be a result of several factors. Leading experts opine that the condition appears to run in families and there may be genetic mutations that make one more susceptible. Physical and emotional trauma along with certain illnesses also seem to trigger the condition.
Fibromyalgia can develop in anyone although it is more common in women than men. It usually develops between 30 to 50 years of age, but may occur in children and the elderly too.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia
Apart from bodily pain, fibromyalgia symptoms include the following concerns:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) characterized by bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping, constipation and abdominal pain
Sleeping difficulty
Fibro-fog or brain fog where patients report having difficulty in concentrating, a loss of energy and short-term memory loss
Headaches and migraines

Pain is the leading symptom that patients complain of and it is a difficult measure to use. One person’s definition of pain may not be the same as another’s. Owing to this, doctors check fibromyalgia tender points to diagnose the condition. There are nine paired points, which includes:

  • Back of the neck
  • Front of the neck
  • Elbows
  • Hips
  • Lower back
  • Upper back
  • Inside of knee pad
  • Shoulders
  • Sides of the sternum

While these tender points are tested during an examination, doctors will also enquire about other symptoms to rule out other health conditions. They also check non-tender points to make sure patients do not react to them.

Pain management
There is no cure for fibromyalgia as yet, but managing pain is the primary goal. Doctors typically prescribe a multi-faceted approach consisting of various therapies. Medication may be prescribed along with lifestyle changes. Dietary supplements are also sometimes prescribed to increase the levels of deficient substances in the body.
Since fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with no cure, it is essential for patients to learn to manage it and reduce its symptoms. Since it can also be brought on by psychological stress, learning stress management and meditation may minimize some of the symptoms.

If you believe you may have fibromyalgia, book an appointment with your doctor. The symptoms are similar to those of other health conditions, therefore it is necessary to rule out more serious illnesses. In the meantime, you can make a few lifestyle changes to begin the process of healing. These changes are beneficial even if you do not have fibromyalgia. They can help you deal with the stress of modern day living and improve your physical wellbeing.

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