Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Treatment
Fibromyalgia is a long-term chronic disorder that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances and cognitive difficulties. In the United States, fibromyalgia is most common in women (7.7 percent) compared to men (4.9 percent). Although fibromyalgia is a common health condition, it is often misunderstood, and many people with the disorder go undiagnosed for years.
Although experts don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, they do have some understanding of what it does to patients. Namely, it heightens painful sensations in the body by affecting the way the brain and spinal cord process pain-related signals. Studies have found that fibromyalgia may be triggered by stress, certain health conditions or big life change.
While there is no test that can diagnose fibromyalgia, a physical exam and a discussion about a patient’s medical history can help healthcare providers determine if the symptoms may be fibromyalgia related.
What Are Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread musculoskeletal pain that affects the entire body. The pain is often described as a deep ache accompanied by tender points on the body that are particularly sensitive to pressure. These tender points are often located in the neck, shoulders, back, hips and knees.
In addition to pain, fibromyalgia is also associated with several other symptoms, including:
- Fatigue – People with fibromyalgia often experience fatigue, which can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities. For some patients, fatigue is a side effect of the inevitable sleep disturbances caused by their fibromyalgia pain.
- Sleep disturbances – Fibromyalgia makes it difficult for sufferers to fall asleep or stay asleep, preventing them from waking up feeling refreshed. Some people with fibromyalgia may also suffer from other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
- Cognitive difficulties– Many people with fibromyalgia report experiencing cognitive difficulties, such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems (often called “brain fog” or “fibro fog”) and trouble with multitasking.
- Depression and anxiety– Fibromyalgia can also lead to depression and anxiety, which can further exacerbate the other symptoms of the disorder.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Fibromyalgia
There is no single test that can be used to diagnose fibromyalgia. Instead, doctors typically diagnose the condition based on a combination of symptoms and physical examination. In order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a person must have had widespread pain for a minimum of three months, as well as have pain in at least four out of five following areas:
- Left upper region (shoulder, arm or jaw)
- Right upper region (shoulder, arm or jaw)
- Left lower region (hip, buttock or leg)
- Right lower region (hip, buttock or leg)
- Axial region (neck, back, chest or abdomen)
Once a diagnosis has been made, there are several treatment options available for fibromyalgia, including:
- Medications– There are several medications that can be used to manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain medications, antidepressants and sleep aids.
- Exercise– Regular exercise can help to reduce pain and fatigue, as well as improve sleep and overall quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy– This form of therapy can help people with fibromyalgia to develop coping strategies for managing the condition, as well as address any underlying depression or anxiety.
- Alternative therapies– There are several alternative therapies that may be helpful for people with fibromyalgia, including acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga.
Managing Fibromyalgia Symptoms
There are a variety of potential non-surgical treatment options and lifestyle changes that people with fibromyalgia can adopt to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
- Getting enough sleep– Getting enough sleep is crucial for people with fibromyalgia, as sleep disturbances can exacerbate other symptoms.
- Eating a healthy diet– A healthy diet can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to pain and other symptoms.
- Practicing stress reduction techniques– Stress can worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia, so it is important to practice stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
- Staying active– Although it can be difficult to exercise with fibromyalgia pain, staying active is important for managing symptoms and maintaining overall health.
- Building a support network– Having a support network of family and friends can be helpful for managing the emotional impact of fibromyalgia.
Seek Treatment for Your Fibromyalgia in Georgia
Patients with fibromyalgia who are living in Marietta and Carrollton have found that non-surgical treatments are often the most effective way to manage fibromyalgia symptoms. At Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, we help patients with fibromyalgia identify the best path toward pain management and recovery, improving their overall quality of life.
To learn more about fibromyalgia diagnosis and treatment options, call us at 770-421-1420 to schedule an appointment.