What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a long-term, chronic illness. It causes fatigue and all-over joint and muscle pain. The pain also often comes and goes. There are no known causes, but certain factors including stress or genetics can predispose a person toward this disease. Even though is no cure, lifestyle changes, other therapies, and medications can offer relief.
Is Fibromyalgia Common?
An estimated 2% (4 million Americans) of the population in the U.S. have fibromyalgia. People suffering from Fibromyalgia may be interested in meeting others with this condition, I would recommend Disability Match for this purpose.
Who Is Prone To Getting Fibromyalgia?
Any person can get this illness, including children. Women are more likely to get this illness when compared to men (twice as high). Symptoms usually start appearing from middle age upwards. Around 20% of the patients that are suffering from other types of chronic disorders like lupus, sarcoidosis, and rheumatoid arthritis may also be suffering from fibromyalgia.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Medical experts are not sure as to why certain people develop this condition. It can run in families. Some events or conditions can bring about symptoms, including:
- Stressors like: a traumatic life event such as an accident or abuse or babies that are born prematurely.
- Medical conditions involving illnesses and viral infections.
- Depression, PTSD, mood disorders, and anxiety.
- Lack of exercise
- Poor sleep
Fatigue and widespread joint and muscle pain along with poor sleep seem to be the symptoms that define fibromyalgia. But this is an illness that will affect people differently. You can also experience:
- Depression Or anxiety
- Digestive issues, including constipation or diarrhoea
- Jaw or face pain (temporomandibular disorders)
- Migraines or headaches
- Memory problems
- Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
What Triggers A Fibromyalgia Attack?
There are certain things that can bring on a flare-up which are the symptoms related to fibromyalgia. These can often include:
- Poor diet or dietary changes
- A change in the person’s daily routines
- Lack of sleep
- Hormone fluctuations
- Stressors including emotional stress, illness, or work-related stressors
- Treatment changes
- A change in sleeping patterns (shift work as an example)
- Temperature or weather changes
How Do Doctors Diagnose Fibromyalgia?
There are no definitive tests to diagnose fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is clinically based on the symptoms the person is experiencing and a physical exam. Blood tests are also usually recommended to exclude other conditions that cause fatigue or tiredness such as thyroid disease or anaemia. This diagnosis will rely on your medical and family history along with the symptoms you are experiencing.
People that suffer from fibromyalgia are usually very sensitive when it comes to pain that usually doesn’t bother other people. Your doctor may examine the painful areas or tender points that are extremely sensitive when touched. For an accurate diagnosis, widespread pain needs to be present for at least 3 months, fatigue, any other symptom such as concentration or memory issues, poor sleep, irritability syndrome, and symptoms relating to depression.
How is fibromyalgia treated or managed?
There is no known cure for this condition. Here is a list of lifestyle changes or medications that might improve symptoms:
- Improved sleep habits
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications
- Exercise and strength training
- Stress management techniques
Are There Any Complications Of Fibromyalgia?
This is not a life-threatening illness, but it can become a challenge to experience fatigue and chronic pain all the time. If not treated, your daily activities and work can also become more difficult.
How To Prevent Fibromyalgia
Since experts are not sure what causes this condition, there is no real way to prevent fibromyalgia. However, it is still good to:
- Get enough sleep
- Minimise stress
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a good weight
- Manage depression, arthritis, or any other condition
- Exercise regularly and stay active
What is the outlook or prognosis for a person with fibromyalgia? Many people suffering from this illness can usually ease their symptoms with lifestyle changes and medications. In some cases, the symptoms can disappear after you have taken the steps to lower stress. Symptoms can return during a stressful time. Some people can experience such severe fatigue and pain that they are not able to work.