Fibromyalgia

With fibro, getting lucky means walking into a room and remembering what I came in for.

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Mayo Clinic describes Fibromyalgia as a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a trauma, injury, or significant psychological stress, or it may not be related to any specific incident at all and may come on all on its own.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and tender points
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Cognitive problems, known as “fibro fog”
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Morning stiffness
  • Numbness, and tingling in hands, arms, feet, and legs
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Urinary problems
  • Temperature sensitivity

Diagnosis

Newer guidelines have allowed for a diagnosis to be made without a tender point exam. This exam included an 18 point check to see how tender these specific points were. Now, the criteria is widespread pain for more than 3 months with no underlying medical condition that could be causing the pain.

There is no specific test to confirm the diagnosis, but tests can be ran to rule out other conditions. These tests may include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • Thyroid function tests

Treatment

Mayo Clinic lists treatments that include both medication and self-care to minimize symptoms of fibromyalgia.

  • Therapy
    • Physical therapy – to improve strength, flexibility, and stamina.
    • Occupational therapy – make adjustments to work area to cause less stress on the body.
    • Counseling – help strengthen your belief in your abilities and teach strategies to help in stressful situations.
  • Stress management
    • Relax – try deep breathing exercises or mediation.
    • Sleep – practice good sleep habits, allot enough time for sleep and try to stick to a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
    • Pace yourself – don’t overdue it on your good days. Do everything in moderation so as to not aggravate symptoms.
    • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – eat healthy, exercise, do something enjoyable. Make the most out of what life still has to offer you.
  • Medications
    • Pain relievers – over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylnol, Motrin, and Aleve may be helpful.
    • Antidepressants – Cymbalta and Savella may help ease fatigue and pain, and Amitriptyline or Cyclobenzaprine for sleep.
    • Anti-seizure drugs – Gabapentin is sometimes helpful in reducing pain, while Lyrica was the first FDA approved drug to treat Fibromyalgia.
  • Alternative medicine
    • Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a Chinese medical system based on restoring normal balance of life forces by inserting very fine needles through the skin to various depths. 
    • Massage – Involves the use of different manipulative techniques to move you body’s muscles and soft tissues.
    • Yoga and Tai Chi – These practices combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing and relaxation.
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