What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease in which both genetics and environmental factors play a role. For a better understanding, here are some basic facts about Fibromyalgia and its symptoms:
- Fibromyalgia afflicts eight to twelve million people in this country alone. It does not discriminate by gender or age, although it predominately affects women between the ages of 35 and 54. It has been found to be genetic, affecting children and the elderly, both male and female alike.
- Fibromyalgia is a complex disease that involves multi-system disturbances and abnormalities. Because of this complexity, these conditions have been poorly treated by the current eight to fifteen minute visits that address only a portion of the wide spectrum of underlying dysfunctions.
- Diagnosis is difficult. Currently there is no one medical test that will clearly diagnose Fibromyalgia.Diagnosis is based on patient history and tender point sensitivity. “Tender Points” refer to 18 points on the body in which extreme sensitivity may occur in at least 11. Tender point sensitivity, as well as a history of widespread chronic body pain for at least 3 months, provides the most definitive diagnosis at this time. Other symptoms relating to a diagnosis are listed below.
- There is no one underlying cause of Fibromyalgia. Research is ongoing, but there is agreement that Fibromyalgia patients have an enhanced pain sensitivity and response originating from the central nervous system. Traumatic illness or injury may trigger the disease. Additional research is continuing to determine other factors that may lead to the development of Fibromyalgia including: genetics, environment, autoimmune dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and connective tissue disease.
- Frequency, degree and location of pain vary from day to day. Any given day a Fibromyalgia patient’s level of discomfort may range from mild muscle stiffness to extreme, radiating pain so severe they feel completely debilitated and unable to carry out simple activities.
- Most treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. The severity of Fibromyalgia varies from person to person and day to day, therefore, the treatment plan should be individualized. The patient, the physician and the FFC team must be focused, determined and dedicated to regaining control and manage the condition.
- A well-rounded management program is important.This may include: nutritional counseling, conditioning, exercise programs and lifestyle changes. Alternative therapies such as acupressure and massage, stress management and relaxation techniques may be considered, and we would collaborate with other health care providers outside our Center for your treatment options.
- Support from family and friends are critical. Understanding Fibromyalgia and having the emotional support of those closest to you can make a tremendous difference in your outcome.
Common symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:
- Flu-like pain that can be severe and constant
- A constant feeling of exhaustion
- Specific tender points that hurt
- Overall body aches
- Muscle stiffness and pain
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Extreme fatigue
- Depression not caused by a trauma or event, but by chronic discomfort
- Cognitive problems, often called “brain fog”
- Reoccurring headaches
- Multiple reoccurring infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome