Fibromyalgia (fie-bro-my-al-jia) is a chronic musculoskeletal syndrome characterized by pain, achiness, tenderness, and stiffness in the muscle tissue, ligaments, and tendons. It most frequently affects the neck, shoulders, chest, legs, and lower back. Pain is generally accompanied by sleep disorders, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, and depression. Many of its symptoms are similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
Common Name: Fibrositis
What Are the Symptoms?
There are many symptoms and everyone that has fibromyalgia will not experience the same symptoms. Pain is the most prominent symptom. Other symptoms are morning stiffness, frequent urination, fatigue, tingling sensations in the hands, arms, feet and face; sleep disturbances, migraine headaches, abdominal pain, anxiety, bloating, and alternate periods of diarrhea and constipation. Symptoms can occur anywhere between 20-55 years of age.
How Many People Have Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is more common than most people realize. As many as 3% to 6% of all people have fibromyalgia. It is less common in older adults, and more women have it than men.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, fibromyalgia affects 3 to 6 million Americans. It primarily occurs in women of childbearing age, but children, the elderly, and men can also be affected.
- About 10 to 25 percent of patients with Lyme disease develop fibromyalgia.
- About half of patients with fibromyalgia report that their symptoms began suddenly during or after a flu-like illness.
- 14 to 23 percent of patients with fibromyalgia report that their symptoms began following a physical injury or trauma such as surgery.
- Fibromyalgia is the second most common diagnosis in rheumatology clinics.
- Seven to ten million Americans suffer from Fibromyalgia.
- It affects women much more than men in an approximate ratio of 20:1.
- Fibromyalgia affects about 6 million Americans.
- It is estimated that approximately 3-6% of the U.S. population has Fibromyalgia
There is no proven prevention for this disorder. Maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits is believed to help prevent most illness. Likewise do good sleep habits and stress coping skills. If, despite your best efforts, you develop the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, contact your health-care provider. The only way you can adequately treat any illness symptoms is by pinpointing as best is possible what is causing those symptoms. That includes ruling out other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
How is it treated?
The most successful treatment for fibromyalgia is a healthy diet and balanced exercise and rest.
1) Medication to improve deep sleep.
2) Regular sleep hours and an adequate amount of sleep.
3) Daily gentle aerobic exercise and stretching.
4) Avoidance of over exertion and stress.
5) Treatment of any coexisting sleep disorders.
6) Patient education
Medication by itself is of little value in treating fibromyalgia. Successful treatment demands the patient's active involvement in treatment as well as lifestyle changes. Each of the six parts of treatment above is important. If any one is omitted, the chance of significant improvement is considerably reduced
Fibromyalgia is commonly diagnosed only after other diseases with similar symptoms are ruled out. There are no laboratory tests available: no changes in muscle tissue have shown on any type of imaging procedure. Diagnosis depends on self-reported symptoms, and a physical examination showing multiple tender points at specific locations.