Characterized by widespread and unexplained pain all over the body, fibromyalgia (FMS), affects the person’s ability to perform routine activities. Reports from the National Fibromyalgia Association suggest that about 10 million people in the United States are affected by fibromyalgia. One of the most common chronic pain conditions, FMS affects both men and women, though about 80-90 percent of all cases reported are women. In most cases, the diagnosis is made between the age-group of 20 to 50 years. Leading pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer several options to treat the widespread pain, fatigue and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. However, it is associated with a combination of factors such as genetics, physical or emotional trauma, chemical imbalances, abnormal pain messages, sleep problems and infections. Rheumatic conditions (affecting the joints, muscles and bones) like osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and rheumatoid arthritis are also believed to contribute to this painful disorder.
There are different symptoms associated with this condition. The type and severity of symptoms may differ from one person to another. Common symptoms include –
- Widespread pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle stiffness
- Multiple points of tenderness
- Itchy/burning skin
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Digestive disorders
- Cognitive difficulties
- Balance problems
FMS Diagnosis and Management
There is no specific lab test to confirm a diagnosis of FMS. As part of the diagnosis, physicians may conduct a series of blood tests (to check blood count, thyroid function tests, rheumatoid factor, cyclic citrullinated peptide test) in order to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. There is no single treatment modality for fibromyalgia. Generally, a combination of different modalities is implemented to reduce the intensity of symptoms.
As FMS causes widespread muscle and joint pain (combined with fatigue and tiredness), it can seriously interfere or affect your day to day activities. Managing these symptoms effectively is crucial to improve mobility and quality of life. Making small lifestyle changes can help manage the FMS pain symptoms in a better manner. Here are some lifestyle strategies that can reduce FMS pain symptoms –
- Keep track of symptoms – This is a vital part of fibromyalgia pain management. Understanding the type and intensity of pain symptoms can help patients better manage or gain control over this condition in the long run.
- Exercise regularly – Regular, moderate exercise helps patients manage muscle stiffness and pain. A combination of aerobic, strengthening and stretching exercises can work better with symptoms.
- Proper diet and sleep schedule – A diet rich in nutrients and proteins helps promote muscle growth. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and lessen chronic fatigue. Reducing intake of fried/processed foods, caffeine and refined sugars is important as these items can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule is also crucial for fibromyalgia pain management. Make sure to sleep at least 8 hours each night.
- Complementary therapies – A combination of complimentary therapies and medications can provide quick relief from fibromyalgia pain. Reliable healthcare centers offer effective treatment modalities such as –
- Physical therapy – Incorporating therapeutic exercise programs like stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises can help build strength and balance.
- Chiropractic care – Administered by trained chiropractors, these spinal manipulation and realignment techniques are used to relieve pain, improve function and promote natural healing.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses low electrical simulation which interacts with the sensory nervous system to reduce muscle stiffness and pain.
- Pain management injections – Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium help reduce muscle spasm.
- Reduce stress – Avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Often, people with FMS feel unwanted nervousness, when symptoms arise. Patients should find time each day to relax. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help them manage the symptoms.
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a lifelong condition that causes pain, fatigue, and tenderness. As many of the signs and symptoms of FMS are quite similar to various other disorders, receiving a correct diagnosis is important. The pain and fatigue associated with this condition can interfere or affect your ability to function at home or on the job. Patients need to focus on activities that reduce the symptoms and ease daily life.