Fibromyalgia is a rare condition yet one of the most common pain disorders that people may suffer from. The two main characteristic features of fibromyalgia are chronic pain and extreme fatigue. A person with fibromyalgia experience long-term pain in the joints, muscles and tendons, which is usually not associated with any other cause. This is the reason, why fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome rather than a disease.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown. But scientists now report that fibromyalgia has something to do with nerve fibres of the palm.
According to a study published in the journal Pain Medicine, patients with fibromyalgia had more sensory nerve fibre within the blood vessels of their skin covering their palm. The blood vessels in the limbs help in regulating blood flow throughout the body and interference caused due to nerve fibre may lead to pain.
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Here are some factors that are known to trigger fibromyalgia -
- Physical trauma
- Emotional disturbances
- Lowered pain response
- Viral infection
- Sleep disorders
Fibromyalgia is associated with many other conditions like -
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is moderate to severe pain in tender points. Tender points are the areas having soft tissues on the back, neck, shoulder, chest, hips, elbows, chin and knees. The pain may be localized at one point or may be felt like a deep ache, burning sensation or shooting, throbbing pain. Patients may also complain about:
Rare symptoms include tension headache, poor concentration, tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
There are about 18 known tender points (9 pairs) where your pain may be localized: Back of the neck, elbows, hips, thighs, shoulder blades, lower back, knees, chest and front of the neck. If you have pain in these tender points you should either see a pain specialist, rheumatologist or neurologist who could help you in diagnosing the condition properly. Read in detail about 18 causes of muscle weakness.
There is no definitive test that can confirm fibromyalgia because the exact cause is not known. But the diagnosis of the condition is based on how long you have been suffering from the symptoms. Generally a patient suffering from chronic pain and fatigue over a period of 3 months is suspected to have fibromyalgia. If the patient is experiencing pain in at least 11 points out of the 18 known tender points, then the doctor will most certainly diagnose fibromyalgia. These tender points should include soft tissues in the elbow, chest, knees, lower back, neck, shoulder and thighs.
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Fibromyalgia cannot be cured as of now. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients.
Currently, duloxetine, pregabalin and milnacipran are three key drugs used in treatment of fibromyalgia. All three drugs help reduce muscle pain and stiffness. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants and pain killers for reducing pain initially. Antidepressants may be prescribed if stress acts as a trigger for inducing pain or if your pain makes you depressed. Sometimes the doctor may also give you sleeping pills if you’re unable to sleep because of pain.
Physiotherapy and some exercises may improve flexibility in patients who have muscle stiffness. Physical therapy helps the patient to manage the symptoms on their own. Here's how physiotherapy works.
Cognitive behavioural therapy:
It is an important part of treatment
in patients with fibromyalgia
because they are likely to get depressed and lose hope after finding out that their condition cannot be cured. Cognitive behavioural therapy helps patients to keep negative thought away and encourage them to involve themselves in activities they like with proper management of symptoms.