The Fundamentals of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a common syndrome of musculoskeletal pain, accompanied by sleep issues, fatigue, memory loss and weakness. The chronic disorder can be caused by emotional stress but can also be caused physically with trauma, lupus and even problems within the central nervous system. About 1 in every 73 American adults suffers from fibromyalgia, according to the American College of Rheumatology, and more than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with the disorder. The disorder usually affects middle-aged patients, and the National Institutes of Health reports that 90 percent of those affected by fibromyalgia are women.

Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are frequently and erroneously considered to be the same. However, arthritis causes joints to become inflamed and worn, but fibromyalgia does not damage any joints, muscles or tissues. They are both considered rheumatic disorders, which indicates that they cause pain and fatigue to the joints and soft tissues in the body.

What Does Fibromyalgia Feel Like?

The symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are said to feel like pressure that is applied to certain parts of the body, or that there is a constant pain around the muscles. Some of the areas that feel that firm pressure include the area of the back between the shoulder blades, the back of the head, the inside of the knees, the upper area of the hips and the upper area of the chest. Those who are suffering from fibromyalgia may also be dealing with symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. It's also possible to deal with vision problems, difficulty sleeping, jaw pain and stiffness, skin disorders, depression, breathing issues and nausea.

How is the Disorder Diagnosed?

Fibromyalgia symptoms can be easily confused with symptoms of another illness or disorder, because there are plenty of common symptoms involved. There are no specific laboratory tests for the disorder, which can make it difficult to receive an official diagnosis as well. However, if other illnesses and causes are ruled out, the doctor may then start linking the symptoms to fibromyalgia. The doctor may also use brain imaging studies to make a more accurate prognosis.

Living with Fibromyalgia

There are many different treatment avenues to consider, based on the patient's personal history. Treatment could include prescription drugs like anti-depressants, a gradual exercise program, chiropractic work, acupuncture and plenty of physical therapy. Aerobic exercise and strength training are two of the most popular therapeutic exercises for those experiencing fibromyalgia. Lifestyle changes, like increasing the amount of sleep you get a night, reducing how much psychological stress you're under in your environment, and the amount of exercise you get each week. Everyone will respond differently to treatments, and it's important to be aware of what is working and what isn't for your body.

If you're experiencing musculoskeletal pain and have yet to be formally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, schedule an appointment with a physician today to have your symptoms checked out. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it's imperative to stay active, maintain a healthy diet and pay attention to which pressure points on your body respond the most to certain risk factors. If you need treatment for fibromyalgia, consult your doctor today to discuss the best options for you and your body.