What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a chronic, long-term illness. It causes all-over muscle pain, joint pain and fatigue. The pain may come and go. There’s no known cause, although certain factors such as stress and genetics may predispose someone toward the disease. Although there isn’t a cure, medications, lifestyle changes and other therapies offer relief.
Causes Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but some think it’s a problem with how your brain and spinal cord process pain signals from your nerves.
We do know certain things suggest you’re more likely to get it:
- You’re a woman.
- You have another painful disease, such as arthritis, or an infection.
- You have a mood disorder, like anxiety or depression.
- You were physically or emotionally abused or have PTSD.
- You rarely exercise.
- Other family members have it.
Symptoms Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Simply put, you ache all over. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain, burning, twitching, or tightness
- Low pain threshold or tender points
- Draining fatigue
- Trouble concentrating and remembering, called “fibro fog”
- Insomnia or not sleeping well
- Feeling nervous, worried, or depressed
Diagnosis Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Your doctor will examine you and ask you about your past medical issues and about other close family members.
There’s no test that can tell you that you have fibromyalgia. Instead, because the symptoms are so similar to other conditions, your doctor will want to rule out illnesses such as an underactive thyroid, different types of arthritis, and lupus. So you may get blood tests to check hormone levels and signs of inflammation, as well as X-rays.
Treatment Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, and drugs that help you sleep.
The three drugs approved specifically for fibro pain are:
Over-the-counter painkillers may help, too. Stronger medicines, like opioids, tend not to work well in the long run, and you could become dependent on them.
Living with fibromyalgia
Your quality of life can be affected when you live with pain, fatigue, and other symptoms on a daily basis. Complicating things are the misunderstandings many people have about fibromyalgia. Because your symptoms are hard to see, it’s easy for those around you to dismiss your pain as imaginary.
Know that your condition is real. Be persistent in your pursuit of a treatment that works for you. You may need to try more than one therapy, or use a few techniques in combination, before you start to feel better.
Lean on people who understand what you’re going through, like:
- your healthcare professional
- close friends
- a therapist
Be gentle on yourself. Try not to overdo it. Most importantly, have faith that you can learn to cope with and manage your condition.