Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that occurs when someone has chronic pain throughout their entire body and sufficient tenderness in their muscles, joints, tendons and other soft tissues in their body. There isn’t a known cause for fibromyalgia though there are a variety of risk factors and many different treatment options. Most people who are born with or who develop fibromyalgia deal with it for most of their life. Fibromyalgia is also linked to a number of other health conditions including sleep issues, anxiety, depression, headaches, and fatigue.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
As mentioned previously, there isn’t a known cause of fibromyalgia though there are some risk factors and triggers. These include insomnia, physical or emotional trauma, infections or viruses, and an abnormal pain response. Women between 20 and 50 years old are at a higher risk of getting fibromyalgia and patients with the condition often have the same symptoms as those with chronic back or neck pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, hypothyroidism, lyme disease, and sleep disorders.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Pain is the primary symptom of people with fibromyalgia which may range from mild to severe. The painful areas are called tender points which may be in any soft tissue including the lower back, neck, shoulders, chest, knees, hips, shins, or elbows. It can start it one of these areas and spread out throughout the entire body. The pain can be a shooting and burning pain or more like a deep ache. It can feel like the joints are the cause of the pain, but fibromyalgia does not affect a person’s joints. The pain from fibromyalgia often worsens with cold or damp weather, stress, anxiety and physical activity. Additional symptoms include numbness and tingling, tension or migraine headaches, a reduced ability to exercise, irritable bowel syndrome, and memory or concentration problems.
Diagnosing and Treating Fibromyalgia
To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, your doctor will require you to have at least 3 months of pain throughout your body and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 common areas. The typical areas of pain include the elbows, buttocks, chest, knees, lower back, neck, rib cage, shoulders, and thighs. The main goal of treatment is to relieve pain and additional symptoms of fibromyalgia. This includes physical therapy, a fitness program, stress relief, relaxation techniques, and medications to help relieve the pain. Other methods of helping to treat fibromyalgia include meditation, yoga, and acupuncture which are often used in conjunction with western medicine.