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BY IN health & wellness On 06-07-2015

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain throughout the body. It is marked by diffuse muscle tenderness.

The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. It is believed there is a dysfunction in the pain processing pathways of the brain.

Fibromyalgia is now considered to be a central nervous system disorder, according to University of Michigan professor of anesthesiology, Daniel Clauw, M.D.

It is a very common chronic pain condition. The disorder affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. and an estimated 3-6% of the world population. FMS is most prevalent in women. 75-90 percent of the people diagnosed are women. It also occurs in men and children of all ethnic groups but to a much lesser extent. The disorder is often seen in families as well. Diagnosis is usually made between the ages of 20 to 50 years.

The diagnostic criteria for FMS was established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990. It includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender points when a specified amount of pressure is applied. In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology developed new diagnostic criteria.

The new criteria do not use tender points. They focus on widespread pain accompanied by symptoms such as sleep problems, cognitive dysfunction, and fatigue.

Fibromyalgia is also often associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms.

The most commons symptoms of fibromyalgia are as follows: pain all over, fatigue/tiredness, sleep difficulties, brain fog (“fibro fog”) morning stiffness, knotted muscles, cramping, weakness, digestive disorders (irritable bowel syndrome), headaches/migraines, and balance issues.

There is no single test which can accurately diagnose fibromyalgia. A proper history and through exam should be performed by your doctor. In addition, your doctor may order an erythrocyte sedimentation rate or ESR, a complete blood count (CBC), or a thyroid panel to rule out other conditions.

Researchers have used fMRI to demonstrate areas of the brain which light up in response to pain. Electrical nerve and muscle testing, known as electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction velocity (NCV), may also be done to check the muscles and nerves.

There are many different treatments for fibromyalgia. A number of pharmacological treatments for fibromyalgia are available by prescription only. The first is pregabalin (Lyrica). The second is duloxetine (Cymbalta). The third is milnacipran (Savella). Additionally, healthcare providers may treat patients’ FM symptoms with narcotic, non-narcotic pain relievers (NSAIDS), and anti-depressants.

Furthermore, lidocaine injections can be injected into the patient’s tender points to relieve their pain. It is also important to utilize a regular program of gentle exercise and stretching to help maintain muscle tone and reduce pain and stiffness.

Other forms of therapy which may be helpful include: chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, massage, myofascial release therapy, application of heat or cold, acupuncture, yoga, psychotherapy, breathing techniques, and nutritional supplementation.

There is help and support available.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseasefibromyalgias (NIAMS)
Information Clearinghouse
National Institutes of Health
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Phone: 301-495-4484
Toll Free: 877-22-NIAMS (877-226-4267)
TTY: 301-565-2966
Fax: 301-718-6366
Email: NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov
Website: http://www.niams.nih.gov

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
National Institutes of Health

American College of Rheumatology

Fibromyalgia Network

National Fibromyalgia Association



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