Fibromyalgia (also called fibromyalgia syndrome) is a medical disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. It causes pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons – the soft fibrous tissues in the body. Pain management specialists in leading healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC use various proven nonsurgical modalities to treat chronic pain and help patients restore strength and quality of life. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about fibromyalgia.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the body including the neck, upper chest, upper back and shoulders, elbows and knees. Although the exact causes of the condition is not known, there appear to be many events that precipitate its onset. It is believed that a variety of factors are responsible for causing the disorder such as genetics, infections (bacteria or viral) physical or emotional trauma, or the development of another disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or hypothyroidism. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Who is at risk of fibromyalgia?
Reports from the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association suggest that about 10 million people in the United States suffer from this painful condition. Though it affects both men and women, women account for about 80-90 percent of all cases. In most cases, the condition first develops during middle age, particularly between the ages of 25-55 years. Risk factors include having certain health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Lyme disease, mononucleosis, or depression or experiencing a traumatic event.
What are the symptoms?
Several symptoms are associated with this condition and the type and severity of symptoms may differ from one person to another. Common symptoms include –
- Widespread pain
- Cognitive difficulties
- Poor sleep
- Morning stiffness
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Painful bowel disturbances
- Multiple points of tenderness
- Digestive disorders
- Mood swings
- Bladder problems including frequent urination
- Insomnia or waking up feeling
How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There is no one test physicians can use to diagnose fibromyalgia. Diagnosing this condition can prove challenging as many of its associated signs and symptoms are quite similar to those of other medical conditions. For instance, if a person suffers from widespread body pain for more than 3 months – without any underlying medical condition that could potentially cause the pain – they would likely receive a fibromyalgia diagnosis. The condition is generally diagnosed using patient history, self-reported symptoms, manual tender point examination and proper physical examination.
How is fibromyalgia treated?
There is no established treatment for fibromyalgia, but a multidisciplinary approach using various proven therapies can help patients better manage symptoms. Established healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC, offer a combination of treatment programs that help patients reduce their pain and improve their quality of life. Some of the treatment modalities include – physical therapy, TENS, chiropractic manipulation and pain management injections.
Physical therapy includes therapeutic exercise programs that help reduce pain and fatigue, strengthen the muscles, and enhance flexibility. Chiropractic treatment administered by trained chiropractors uses spinal manipulation and realignment techniques in order to reduce pain symptoms, improve function and promote natural healing. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses low electrical simulation that interacts with the sensory nervous system to reduce muscle stiffness and pain. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) may help lower muscle spasms.
Can people with fibromyalgia work?
Many people with fibromyalgia work full or part time, though the chronic pain and fatigue can make things challenging. Self-managing fibromyalgia pain and controlling daily stress can help cope with symptoms. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network has lists of recommendations for accommodations that employers should be willing to make for employees with fibromyalgia.