What is Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a human disorder classified by the presence of chronic widespread pain and tactile allodynia. While the criteria for such an entity have not yet been thoroughly developed, the recognition that fibromyalgia involves more than just pain has led to the frequent use of the term “fibromyalgia syndrome”. It is not contagious, and recent studies suggest that people with fibromyalgia may be genetically predisposed. The disorder is not directly life-threatening.
Do you have pain from head to toe? Are you tossing and turning throughout the night, unable to sleep? Do you wake up to pain and a foggy brain in the morning? These are common symptoms experienced by fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients.The most common sites of pain include the neck, back, shoulders, pelvic girdle, and hands, but any body part can be affected. Fibromyalgia patients experience a range of symptoms of varying intensities that wax and wane over time.
Signs and symptoms
Widespread pain. Fibromyalgia is characterized by pain in specific areas of your body when pressure is applied, including the back of your head, upper back and neck, upper chest, elbows, hips and knees. The pain generally persists for months at a time and is often accompanied by stiffnessYou may have some degree of constant pain, but the pain may get worse in response to activity, stress, weather changes and other factors. You may have a deep ache or a burning pain. You may have muscle tightening or spasms. Many people have migratory pain (pain that moves around the body).
Risk Factors of Fibromyalgia
One study reported that 28% of the children of mothers with fibromyalgia also develop the disorder. Offspring who developed fibromyalgia were no more likely to have psychological disorders than those who did not.
Primary fibromyalgia is the most common type. Many experts believe that fibromyalgia is not a disease but rather a chronic pain condition brought on by several abnormal body responses to stress. Physical injuries, emotional trauma, or viral infections such as Epstein-Barr may be triggers of the disorder, but none have proven to be a cause of primary fibromyalgia.It is believed that individuals with FM may have low levels of certain chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Low levels of these brain chemicals can cause depression and contribute to the pain and fatigue experienced in FM.
How is it treated?
Analgesics or “pain relievers” interact with receptors in the body to stop the sensation of pain from various sources. Analgesic drugs vary in strength and addiction potential from over-the-counter Tylenol to stronger prescription medications such as propoxyphene/acetaminophen (Darvocet) and tramadol (Ultram).
Lyrica: This is the first drug approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of fibromyalgia. While this is a step forward, it is no cure. Lyrica has been shown to cut pain levels in half, but only in 30% of the people who took it.
Exercise. The emphasis is often on muscle conditioning and programs to improve aerobic fitness (such as swimming, cycling, walking and stationary cross-country ski machines) as well as physical therapy. Patients should be told that exercise is safe and effective. After an initial training period, the exercise regimen chosen should be done daily for 30 to 40 minutes.
Widely used diagnostic criteria published by the American College of Rheumatologists establish that a person has fibromyalgia if he or she has had widespread pain for at –