An Overview of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a painful medical condition that is difficult to diagnose and to treat. Though progress has been made, there is still not a definite answer to the question, “What is fibromyalgia?” In fact, the exact cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown, but modern medical science believes that the condition may be a result of a combination of genetics, injuries or other trauma and infections. While women are more likely to have fibromyalgia than men, both sexes can be diagnosed with the condition.


Common Symptoms

There are a number of common signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. The primary symptom is a constant ache that may extend throughout the body. The pain may remain constant throughout the day or fluctuate from morning to evening. The areas of the body where pain is felt are generally tender to the touch. Physical activity, mental stress and changes in the weather may increase the pain felt by fibromyalgia sufferers. Most people will also have a depressed mood and sleep disruptions. Other symptoms may include: migraines, decreased ability to concentrate, numbness of the hands and feet and digestive problems.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

As the symptoms of fibromyalgia are common to a number of other illnesses, doctors often have difficulty in determining whether or not a person has fibromyalgia. The criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia include pain for three months or more and pain spread through different parts of the body. Specifically, the pain must be on both sides of the body and present above and below the waist. There is no blood or urine test for fibromyalgia, but tests are usually completed as a way to rule out other problems that may present similar symptoms. For example, a thyroid test is often completed when fibromyalgia is suspected as thyroid problems can cause similar symptoms.

Treating Fibromyalgia

Treatments for fibromyalgia generally include medications and therapy. Both over the counter and prescription pain relievers are used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Anti-seizure and muscle relaxing medications may also be used in some cases to reduce pain. Therapy is also commonly used to help the patient to deal with stress and anxiety as well to develop coping skills. Lifestyle changes such as working to get a better night’s sleep, getting plenty of exercise, avoiding caffeine and eating a balanced diet can also help to reduce the severity of fibromyalgia.