From the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers Newsletter
The greater the knowledge, the greater the comfort level. Encourage your family and friends to learn as much as possible about Fibromyalgia. We highly recommend they read this email to help them better understand facts about a condition that affects millions and controls every aspect of your life.
Fibromyalgia Basic Facts
- Greater than 4 million people, in this country, currently have a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. It does not discriminate; children, those in the prime of their lives, elderly, men, and women have been diagnosed with this condition.
- Fibromyalgia is a condition that produces chronic pain of the soft tissues that may include the muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also may produce a number of other symptoms including temperature sensitivities; numbness and tingling that may travel throughout the body, fatigue, insomnia, concentration problems, gastric upset, headaches, joint discomfort and depression.
- Diagnosis is difficult. Currently, there is not a medical test available that will clearly diagnosis the condition. Fibromyalgia does not provide a clear physical, visual trait that can easily be recognized by a physician. Many patients suffer with symptoms for years before receiving a definitive diagnosis. Currently, diagnosis is based on patient history and tender point sensitivity. 18 sites on the body have been classified as “Tender Points”. Extreme sensitivity upon palpation of at least 11 of these 18 points as well as a history of widespread, chronic body pain for at least 3 months provides the most definitive diagnosis at this time.
- The underlying cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown. Research is ongoing to understand the exact cause and new treatment options. To-date, researchers agree that Fibromyalgia patients have an enhanced pain sensitivity and response originating from the central nervous system. Traumatic illness or injury may trigger the condition. In addition, research is continuing to determine if other factors may lead to the development of Fibromyalgia including; genetics, environmental factors, autoimmune dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and connective tissue disease.
- Frequency, degree and location of pain vary from day to day for Fibromyalgia patients. It is important to understand that on any given day a Fibromyalgia patient’s level of discomfort may range from mild muscle stiffness to extreme, radiating pain so severe they feel completely debilitated and unable to carry out simple daily activities.
- Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. Since the severity of the condition varies from person to person and day to day, the treatment plan focuses on the determination of the underlying causes and an effective regimen to alleviate the symptoms to attain and meet the lifestyle goals of the patient. It must be an individualized plan based. There is no simple answer and management of this condition requires a multi-therapeutic approach. The patient must be focused, determined and dedicated to taking control to increase their functionality.
- A well-rounded management program, with the assistance of a knowledgeable physician who will work diligently to determine the underlying factors, may also include; nutritional counseling, conditioning and exercise programs, alternative therapies such as acupressure and massage, stress management and relaxation techniques as well as, some lifestyle changes.
- Support from family and friends are critical. Understanding of the condition, the limitations it creates and working with your loved one to assist them to stick with their management program can make a tremendous difference in helping them get through the lows and together, enjoy the highs!