FAQ’s on Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a common condition that affects between 3 and 4% of females and close to 1% of men, most commonly between the ages of 30 and 50. It is characterized by a long term effect of pain all over the body, and tenderness in the muscles, joints, tendons and all the body’s soft tissues. The syndrome does not lead to any form of deformity or body damage, but most patients will experience prolonged fatigue.

Fibromyalgia patients are known to have a series of sleepless nights, fatal anxiety, depressions, and headaches. The condition is commonly referred to as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), but initially people used to call it fibrositis.

What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?

The main cause of Fibromyalgia is still not known among the medical community. The patient will only be experiencing pain in response to stimuli that would, in many cases, otherwise not translate to pain. Recent research found Fibromyalgia patients with increased levels of nerve chemical called substance-P. The patients also registered low levels of the brain chemical called serotonin. There are speculations about the condition being caused by a supersensitive central nervous system (CNS).

What are the signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

The universal symptoms of Fibromyalgia are tissue non-inflammatory pain. The patient will tend to have an enhanced sensitivity to sensory stimuli, and oversensitivity to the minimal amounts of pain.

Any stimulus that does not cause pain can result in disability and numbness, or extended bouts of fatigue felt by the patient. The pains associated with Fibromyalgia are normally increased by noise, emotional stress, and weather changes. Some patients may also experience interruptions of their sleep cycle, which can in turn lead to further bouts of fatigue.

What are the tests to diagnose Fibromyalgia?

Any person with Fibromyalgia must have had the condition for at least 3 months to be diagnosed effectively. The condition does not register any abnormality in the urine and blood tests. However, these tests are still normally performed in order to ascertain whether the symptoms the patient is experiencing are actually being caused by Fibromyalgia, or if they may be resulting from any other condition that has similar symptoms.

The condition also has to register numbness and pain in 11 different regions of the body to be diagnosed. Areas that count towards this diagnosis include the arms, chests, buttocks, thighs, shoulders, neck, lower back, and rib cage among others.

Who is most affected by Fibromyalgia?

Those affected by the condition are mostly women; and they account for over 80% of all Fibromyalgia patients. The condition is commonly found in people between the ages of 35 to 55.

Children, men and the elderly are also affected by Fibromyalgia, but to a lesser extend when compared to the number of affected women. There is a working theory that women are more affected by this condition due a lowered amount of serotonin within the brain (women have an estimated seven times less of this hormone than men). A lowered serotonin level in the body will make a person more sensitive to pain, which may play into the development of Fibromyalgia.

Does the condition occur independently or with other conditions?

Fibromyalgia can occur as a stand-alone condition, or may occur with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and systematic Lupus. The effects of Fibromyalgia have been known to be enhanced by these conditions, and patients who have been diagnosed with either systematic Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may stand a higher chance of suffering from Fibromyalgia.

What are available treatments for Fibromyalgia?

Alternative Treatment Options:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Physical Therapy
  • Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Yoga
  • Meyers Cocktail Treatment

Medication Management:

  • Antidepressants
  • Analgesics (NSAIDs)
  • Muscle Relaxers
  • Opiates
  • Lyrica/Neurontin
  • Cymbalta/Savella
  • Sleep Aids

Trigger point injections may also benefit along with TENS units.

The National Fibromyalgia Association recommends that patients decrease pain symptoms dramatically through multi-modality treatment.