Fibromyalgia syndrome affects a patient’s musculo-skeletal system as well as their CNS (central nervous system). This medical condition is more common than people may realize, and presents a challenging health dilemma. There is now a hypothesis which suggests FMS causes the brain’s neural receptors to have an increased sensitization to pain and other stimuli.
Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia suffer with a a variety of complaints ranging from aching joints to chronic pain and fatigue. With a broad range of symptoms, and no definitive diagnostic tests being available, fibromyalgia can be difficult for a health professional to identify.
FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) has become the nation’s second most common musculo-skeletal problem. While patients frequently complain of muscle pain, fatigue and aching joints, there are many additional signs and symptoms that may be present. These same symptoms for fibromyalgia could also be indicative of numerous other health problems.
In many instances sign and symptoms of fibromyalgia are misidentified. This means that a health care practitioner needs to rule out every other possibility. It requires a great deal of time and patience to correctly diagnose FMS. Then it is necessary to find the right combination of medications and treatment options that can bring relief to the patient.
Interesting Facts and Statistics
It is estimated that as many as 5-6 million adults in the US are battling with symptoms for fibromyalgia.
Nearly 5% of American adults are now affected by this medical condition.
85-90% of patients with fibromyalgia symptoms are adult females.
The most common age group to complain about signs of fibromyalgia are individuals between the ages of 25-49.
If a family member suffers from fibromyalgia, there is a greater likelihood for other relatives to develop the same condition.
66 % of patients with auto-immune disorders (such as SLE (lupus) and rheumatoid arthritis) are also diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Children who have at least one parent with fibromyalgia have a higher risk of developing the same medical condition.
Almost half of the patients with symptoms of fibromyalgia can trace the onset to a specific traumatic event. These episodes include events such as auto accidents, major surgeries and life-threatening illnesses.
An accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia may not be given for as long as 1-5 years.
Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
There are many different types of fibromyalgia symptoms, and these will vary according to each individual patient. Some individuals will experience multiple symptoms and others may only experience one or two of the listed signs and symptoms.
- Chronic fatigue (not relieved by sleep)
- Aching muscles
- Painful joints
- Increased sensitivity to pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Difficulty working
- Difficulty completing ordinary tasks and household chores
Some of the less common signs and symptoms related to FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome might include the following
- Increased incidences of hospitilizations
- Failure to thrive (as an adult)
- Difficulty concentrating
- problems with memory
- increased agitation and impatience
- lack of interest in daily activities
- withdrawal from friends and family
- propensity for injuries
- shuffling gait
- gastro-intestinal upsets
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- TMJ pain
Tracing the Pathway of Nerve Disruption
With fibromyalgia there are specific trigger points in the body where pain can be elicited when very light pressure is applied. There are a total of nine of these “tender points” on the body. These triggers include bony prominences along the posterior portion of the skull, the neck , elbows, hips, knees chest and shoulders.
A patient with fibromyalgia will feel an intense sensation of pain when pressure is applied to these “tender points”. This is thought to occur because the FMS creates distortions which negatively affect normal nerve transmissions.
Searching for Causative Factors
Fibromyalgia syndrome has been linked to genetics, diet, environmental stressors and depression. It is still not clear what role (if any) these factors might play in the development of this medical condition.
It is reported that the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be intensified if an individual is subjected to increased levels of stress. Worry, anxieties, extended travel and changes in employment can all trigger a flare-up for any patient who is suffering with fibromyalgia.
Treatment Plans for Fibromyalgia
Doctors typically prescribe a minimum of three drugs for patients with signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some patients respond well to anti-inflammatory agents, mood elevators and mild pain relievers. Others may require additional therapeutic measures such as anti-seizure medications.
It has been discovered that a healthier diet may have a positive effect on fibromyalgia patients. Improvements in the diet may help control some of the uncomfortable symptoms for fibromyalgia.
Health experts suggest eliminating processed foods, sugars and alcohol from the diet altogether. The meal plans should incorporate the use of more fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains and lean proteins.
Other therapies include yoga, meditation, bio-feedback, daily exercise and counseling sessions designed to alleviate stress. Even under the best of circumstances it will take a little time for control of fibromyalgia symptoms to be achieved.
The Future Outlook is Brighter
Fibromyalgia can be controlled, and the symptoms can be managed. Although the therapeutic options may be limited at the present time there are many new advancements taking place in the world of medicine. Research into this medical condition are ongoing, and you should stay informed about the latest developments and discoveries. A real cure for FMS could be announced in the upcoming future.
If you are concerned that you may have some of the signs of fibromyalgia you should discuss your situation with a health care professional.
Fibromyalgia patients remain tired even with uninterrupted sleep. To make matters worse, a number of these individuals simultaneously experience additional problems such as sleep apnea, sleep disturbances, insomnia or RLS (restless leg syndrome).