There are many conditions involving severe pain that can be challenging to diagnose. Fibromyalgia is one of them. This disease has symptoms that resemble arthritis, but unlike arthritis, the pain is not concentrated in the joints. Fibromyalgia affects soft tissue, although it can sometimes feel as though it is in the joint.
Unlike some chronic diseases, fibromyalgia does not have many visible symptoms, and it is not fatal. However, the pain, chronic fatigue, muscle tenderness and other symptoms can have serious effects on the quality of life.
Treatment for fibromyalgia often entails a multi-faceted approach to address the different symptoms. One of the major factors is self-care. In some cases, medication may be advised to help with pain, fatigue and mood issues. However, alternative treatments can have an even better rate of effectiveness.
Fibromyalgia treatments can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, exercise, nutrition counseling, massage and other types of care. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, so treatment generally revolves around minimizing symptoms and working to improve general health.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
As of yet, the direct causes of fibromyalgia are still a mystery. Doctors believe many factors working together may generate the onset of the disease. Genetics play a role, as it tends to run in families. Certain genetic mutations are thought to cause an individual to become predisposed to the condition, and stressors may cause it to manifest.
There seem to be illnesses that are associated with the onset of fibromyalgia. It can also be triggered by physical trauma, such as a car accident, or psychological stress or trauma, such as a job loss or divorce.
There are certain factors involved that can increase your risk of getting fibromyalgia. Men can get the disease, but it is more prevalent in women. If you have a relative with the condition, you are at a greater risk of developing it yourself. Health conditions such as osteoarthritis, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis also increase your chances of developing symptoms.
Symptoms vary from patient to patient. Also, the intensity of pain is different for everyone, and individuals can experience varying degrees of pain on any given day. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Widespread pain in joints and muscles
- Sleep disorders
- Concentration and memory problems
- Anxiety or depression
- Muscle stiffness in the morning
- Numbness and tingling in the extremities
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Mood disorders
- Restless legs syndrome
- Urination problems
- Menstrual cramps
Many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia are also present in other health conditions, making the disease difficult to diagnose. There are also no lab tests, and imaging does not show any problems. The diagnosis is made on self-reported symptoms. The main issue that causes people to seek medical attention is widespread pain throughout the body.
Fibromyalgia pain can be localized for a while then move to a different part of the body. It can feel deep, sharp, dull, throbbing or aching. Sometimes the pain will seem to be in the joints while at other times you feel it in your muscles, tendons or ligaments.
Tender spots are often present near some of the joints in the body. The tissue around the joints hurt and not the actual joint. These areas, often called trigger points, are tender to the touch.
Treatment for Fibromyalgia
It is important to work with a healthcare team that understands the complexity of fibromyalgia. Treatment will look different for different patients. Your doctor will need to address not only the pain but also sleep problems, fatigue, mood and possibly stress and anxiety.
When it is diagnosed and treated appropriately, the result is often a significant reduction in pain levels and sleep problems. Your quality of life also improves when your symptoms are properly treated.
Some doctors may prescribe medication to treat symptoms, but for patients who prefer alternative remedies, physical therapy, relaxation techniques, exercise, dietary supplements and a change in diet may provide relief. Acupuncture, water exercises, massage and other types of treatment also have been used successfully in treating the discomfort of fibromyalgia.
Manhattan Sports Therapy Clinic treats patients suffering from the pain of fibromyalgia and helps them achieve a better quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with this disease or you experience widespread pain, contact us and schedule a consultation with Dr. Nemirovsky. Diagnosis and treatment can help alleviate your pain and restore your ability to live an active life.