Fibromyalgia – Causes, Risk factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

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Changes in Lifestyle to Control Fibromyalgia

The following changes in lifestyle may help you control fibromyalgia.

Exercise

Perhaps, exercise is the most effective way to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Benefits include:

  • Preventing muscle atrophy
  • Reducing muscle stiffness
  • Reducing pain and fatigue
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Increased flexibility and muscle stretch

Your exercise program should start with light activity and gradually increase over time. Several types of exercise, including low-impact aerobics and swimming, could be useful, which is especially beneficial for people who have severe muscle pain.

Relaxation Techniques

Some people with fibromyalgia have discovered that certain techniques that help you relax and reduce stress may be beneficial in controlling chronic pain. Examples of successful techniques include:

  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Meditation

Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop fibromyalgia with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing fibromyalgia. If you have numerous risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

There are still many questions regarding the exact cause (s) of fibromyalgia, so the risk factors are still being identified. Currently, risk factors include:

Sex

Although fibromyalgia could develop in men or women, statistics show that women are seven times more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men.

Age

People between 20 and 60 years of age have the highest risk of developing the onset of fibromyalgia, although it could occur at any age.

Genetic Factors

There is an indication that genetic factors may be involved in the development of fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that people with family members who have fibromyalgia have a higher risk of developing it themselves.

Specific Lifestyle Factors

People who have recently experienced a traumatic physical or emotional event (such as divorce, car accident, etc.) may have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia.

Psychiatric illness

Although most people with fibromyalgia report a history of psychiatric symptoms, many patients do not, and there is no clear evidence that the psychiatric illness causes fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

The symptoms of fibromyalgia could vary in severity from one person to another, ranging from mild to very debilitating. In addition, symptoms vary from day to day or from month to month. Although the symptoms may be extremely uncomfortable and often cause psychological stress, they rarely cause permanent physical damage.

The symptoms most commonly associated with fibromyalgia include:

Pain – Pain is the most important symptom, occurring for at least three months and taking many different forms. This has been described by patients as persistent, burning, stinging, continuous, tingling, or acute. The pain is felt on both sides of the body, both above and below the waist. It is usually located in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips, although many people experience migratory pain (pain that moves from one part of the body to another).

Often, the pain is worse in the morning and may be more prevalent in groups of muscles that are used frequently. Factors such as changes in weather, stress, exercise, or menstrual cycles may cause pain to increase.

Fatigue – Although some people may experience only light fatigue, in others it is so debilitating that they are unable to work. This fatigue does not improve with sleep, which in itself is not normal or relaxing.

Sleep Disorder – Studies on sleep have shown that people with fibromyalgia who experience fatigue generally have a brain awakening increased to the time when the deepest sleep cycle (stage IV, delta) should be occurring. This prevents the body from getting the normally restorative benefits of sleep and could be the cause of the fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.

Difficulty Thinking (‘Fibroniebla’) – Many patients with fibromyalgia report an inability to concentrate, as well as memory damage.
Symptoms and Simultaneous Conditions – Some symptoms and medical conditions are more frequent in patients with fibromyalgia, such as:

  • Digestive problems that could cause cramps, heartburn, or alternating constipation and diarrhea (‘spastic colon’ and irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Chronic headaches and jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and nervousness
  • Vision problems, such as dry eyes or difficulty focusing on close objects
  • Balance problems, such as dizziness or damaged coordination
  • Pelvic / urinary discomfort, which could be experienced as pelvic pain, frequent urination, painful menstrual
  • periods, or painful sexual relationships
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Skin problems, such as itchy, dry, or red skin
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Sensitivities Intensified – People with fibromyalgia often report a to increased sensitivity to:

  • Odors
  • Noise
  • Bright lights
  • Medications
  • Some foods

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose, since many of the symptoms are similar to those of other disorders. Your doctor will perform a complete physical exam, discuss your symptoms, and then check for ‘tender points (triggers)’; areas of pain throughout the body, to confirm the diagnosis. Symptoms of chronic and generalized pain should be present for more than three months before a doctor can make a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

Examination to Detect Sensitive Points (‘Triggers’) – According to the criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology, there are 18 specific tender (or pressure) points around the body that are potentially painful when palpated in people with fibromyalgia. The majority of healthy people have only three sensitive points. These points are located around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee, and elbow regions.

Usually a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made if 11 of these 18 points cause pain when palpated.

Blood tests – Although blood tests can not identify fibromyalgia, your doctor may order these tests to rule out other diseases that have similar symptoms, such as lupus, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other muscle-bone disorders.

Fibromyalgia Treatments

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Therefore, the treatment focuses on reducing pain and other symptoms.

The treatment involves the following:

  • Changes in lifestyle
  • Medications
  • Other treatments
  • Alternative and complementary therapies

Currently, there are no surgical options for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Review

The purpose of the review is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without symptoms present, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Revision Indications

There are no exams or specific review indications for fibromyalgia.

Reducing Your Risk of Fibromyalgia

Because researchers have such a limited understanding of the cause (s) of fibromyalgia, there are no known ways to reduce their risk of developing this condition.

Talking to Your Doctor About Fibromyalgia

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential that you talk with your doctor or health professional about your personal risk factors and / or experience with fibromyalgia. By speaking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can play an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

Take someone else with you. It is helpful for another person to listen to what is said and think of questions to ask.
Write your questions in advance, so you do not forget them.
Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are listening to. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have the right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Fibromyalgia

  • Have you ruled out other conditions that could be causing my symptoms?
  • Do you have any idea what might have caused my fibromyalgia?
  • Have you tried many cases of fibromyalgia?
  • Will I need to see a specialist?

About Treatment Options

  • What types of treatments do you recommend for my case?
  • What medications are available to help me?
  • What are the benefits / side effects of these medications?
  • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or herbal or dietary supplements that I am already taking for other conditions?
  • Are there alternative or complementary therapies to help me? Do you advise any of the following for my case?
  • Physical Therapy
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Bio-feedback

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What kind of exercise should I do?
    On the contrary, is there some kind of exercise that should be avoided?
  • Will I be able to continue working and doing my usual daily activities?

About the General Overview

  • What is my future?
  • How long will it take before my symptoms start to improve?
  • Could you help me find a support group?
  • How can I explain my condition to my family, friends, and employer?
  • Where can I get more information about this condition?

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