FAQs on Fibromyalgia
An Overview of Fibromyalgia
Following osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia (FM) is the most commonly suffered musculoskeletal condition, affecting approximately 12 million Americans. FM is typically diagnosed as fibromyalgia syndrome due to how the condition affects patients. A syndrome is a collection of similar symptoms experienced across many patients but without a known singular cause. FM symptoms closely mirror that of both tendinitis and osteoarthritis.
Fibromyalgia in a patient will heighten the pain response of the body, with many patients experiencing chronic widespread pain in the muscles. In many cases, the body will also have chronic fatigue that may affect the sleep cycle and cognitive coherence.
What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?
A singular cause for fibromyalgia (FM) has yet to be identified. There is a large amount of emerging evidence regarding potential causes, with a focus on hormonal imbalance in the brain, changes in the blood flow to specific areas of the brain, and functional reversal of the opioid receptors.
Other items thought to contribute to the presence of FM include hereditary factors such as genetic predisposition, illness, and traumatic injury. Patients may exhibit any number of these factors, and no single factor has been found to directly cause FM to occur.
FM has been found to occur roughly 10 times more often in woman when compared to men, which may be related to the amount of serotonin present in the brain for each gender. Serotonin inhibits pain sensitivity, meaning a lower amount will make an individual more susceptible to pain. On average, women have 7 times less serotonin then men which may act as a contributing factor into the presence of FM.
The symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The most common symptom found in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) is widespread pain throughout the body that may worsen as the joints and muscles are used. Patients may also suffer from chronic fatigue that affects the sleep cycle by not allowing a patient to obtain restorative sleep.
Improper sleep can cause a condition called “fibro fog,” in which a patient’s cognitive abilities are diminished. Patients can also develop areas that react with severe pain when touched. These are called tender points, and tend to develop on areas of muscle that are placed under constant stress.
The symptoms of FM closely mirror those of osteoarthritis and tendinitis, but are not classified in the same manner. Both osteoarthritis and tendinitis exhibit their symptoms in only one area of the body while fibromyalgia exhibits symptoms throughout the entirety of the body, with multiple areas affected at once.
Fibromyalgia syndrome can be very difficult to diagnosis as it is a set of collective symptoms without a singular cause. The first step taken by a physician during diagnosis is to fully examine the patient and note every symptom that is present.
Once the full set of symptoms has been identified, the Denver pain management doctor will run a variety of tests to determine if there is any other cause for the symptoms. Once all other potential causes have been ruled out, the set of present symptoms will be compared against the acceptable criteria for fibromyalgia diagnosis, which are:
- The number of present pain areas of 18 tested areas (tender point test)
- The severity of fatigue, unstopped walking, and cognitive complications.
- Physical symptoms having been present for at least three months at constant levels
- No other identified causes
Available Treatment options for Fibromyalgia
Treatment for fibromyalgia is difficult, and what may work exceptionally well for one patient may be insufficient for the next. There are various medications which may provide exceptional relief which include:
- Antidepressant Medication
- Acetaminophen or Analgesics (NSAIDs)
- Muscle relaxants
- Neuropathic medications such as Lyrica
- Sleeping aids
- Meyers Cocktail IV Infusion Treatments
Along with medications, it has been shown that comprehensive treatments may provide better pain relief for patients (Rooks 2007). Options include:
- Trigger Point Injections
- Physical Therapy
- Massage therapy
- Yoga, Meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Infusions of Membrane Stabilizing Drugs
- Exercise and Aquatic Therapy
- TENS Unit
Overall, treatment options for fibromyalgia patients will need to be individualized to obtain the best results. Surgery is not an option for fibromyalgia; thankfully, nonoperative treatment with Denver pain management doctors works very well the majority of the time.
Denver pain management doctors offer considerable treatment options for fibromyalgia. It’s a difficult condition to effectively treat, but with individualized treatment excellent outcomes can be achieved.
If you or a loved one is suffering from fibromyalgia, let Colorado Pain help you with the best pain management Denver offers. Call (720) 306-9575 today!