Doctor's Notes on Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes chronic pain in muscles and ligaments, mainly in women ages mid-30s to late-50s. Signs and symptoms of the disease are widespread pain in the muscles and ligaments, not in the joints, and located most often in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips; the areas can be tender and sensitive, more in the morning hours and maybe burning, throbbing, aching or stabbing. Chronic fatigue is also common; it is not relieved by sleep or rest. Many patients develop fibro fog (brain fog); which means mental haziness with memory loss and depression.
Other symptoms may include insomnia, headaches, nervousness, numbness, dizziness, and irritable bowel syndrome.
There is no known cause for fibromyalgia. However, substance P which transmits pain impulses has been found to be 3 times higher in fibromyalgia patients and may explain why they feel more pains. Other researchers suggest the patients lack deep sleep (stage 4 sleep) when the muscles and the body recover from daily activities. Risk factors associated with the illness include fibromyalgia in a close family member, physical or emotional trauma, and having sleep apnea.
What is the treatment for fibromyalgia?
Treatments of fibromyalgia usually have two main components medications and self-help therapies. Most patients require combinations of medications and therapies; your doctors may try more than one plan to see what is your best treatment plan. The following are medications and therapies often used to treat fibromyalgia:
- Pain relief – over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen
- Antidepressants (for fatigue and pain) like duloxetine
- Antiseizure drugs (symptom reduction and pain reduction; like gabapentin or pregabalin, FDA approved for fibromyalgia treatment)
- Physical – strength improvement
- Occupational – task improvement, stress reduction
- Stress management
- Regular sleep time
- Regular exercise
- Establish a healthy lifestyle
Your doctor may choose additional medications and/or therapies.
Fibromyalgia : What Is Fibromyalgia? QuizQuestion
What characterizes fibromyalgia?See Answer
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Chronic PainChronic pain is pain that persists for a period of six months or longer, and is the result of a long-standing medical condition(s) or damage to the body. Common sources of chronic pain include headaches, back pain, and arthritis. There are several types of pain including general somatic pain, visceral pain, bone pain, muscle cramps, neuropathy, circulatory problems, and headache pain. Chronic pain may be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Hip PainThere are many causes of hip pain, such as arthritis, trauma, strains, sprains, and other conditions that cause referred hip pain. Hip pain can be sharp, sudden, gradual, or may come and go. Diagnosis and treatment of hip pain will depend upon the cause.
How Do You Get Fibromyalgia?Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition with an unknown cause. Risk factors for fibromyalgia include being female, genetics, obesity, illness (viral infections), repetitive injuries, stressful or traumatic events, age, mood problems (anxiety, panic disorder, and depression), certain diseases, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, and sleep disorders.
What Does a Fibromyalgia Attack Feel Like?Pain and stiffness all over the body, fatigue paired with insomnia, anxiety and depression and neurological symptoms are all characteristic of fibromyalgia. These may intensify during a fibromyalgia attack or flare.
What Foods Should I Avoid with Fibromyalgia?Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and depression that can sometimes interfere with a person's daily life. Foods that can trigger fibromyalgia pain include refined sugar, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, fried foods, red meat, processed foods and others.
What Is the Average Age for Fibromyalgia?Fibromyalgia can occur at any age, though the average age at diagnosis is between 35 to 45 years. Most people experience symptoms of fibromyalgia earlier in life, however.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.