What is Fibromyalgia?
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition with no clear-cut answers. The word fibromyalgia can be broken down into three words. ‘Fibro’ means fiber or fibrous, ‘my’ is from ‘myo’ and refers to muscle and ‘algia’ represents a state of pain. Therefore, fibromyalgia simply means a condition which is characterized by pain in the muscle and soft tissue fibers of the body. Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2% to 4% of the population and 80-90% of those affected are females between the ages of 40-60. It is sometimes called the invisible pain disease, because there are no diagnostic tests to confirm it. What is Fibromyalgia?
The specific cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but there are some prominent theories regarding the onset of the disease including but not limited to: chemical changes in the brain (especially serotonin and substance P), sleep disturbances, injury to the upper spinal region, infection, abnormalities of the sympathetic nervous system, stress, lack of exercise, nutritional deficiencies and toxicity. Symptoms vary by individual and may include widespread pain, fatigue, needlelike tingling of the skin, muscle aches, nerve pain, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic sleep disturbances.
A thorough exam is necessary before undergoing any treatment for fibromyalgia to rule out other health conditions which can manifest as “fibromyalgia-like” symptoms. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because there are no specific diagnostic tests for it.
Often blood tests and x-rays results are within normal ranges which may rule out other conditions, but do not confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Treatment options include but are not limited to: dietary changes, nutritional supplementation, exercise, joint manipulation, bio-feedback, acupuncture, and prescription medications. Dietary changes may include increasing your daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and meats and eliminating potential irritants such as: corn, wheat, dairy, citrus, soy and nuts. Studies have shown that fibromyalgia sufferers show improvement in their symptoms by supplementing their diet with malic acid with magnesium in an effort to counteract potential aluminum toxicity. Detoxification can also be an important part of fibromyalgia treatment as it can help rid the body of unwanted toxins related to smoking, alcohol consumption, soft drinks, and prescription and non-prescription medications.
Research has indicated that more than 80% of patients with fibromyalgia are not physically fit. Although it may be difficult for fibromyalgia patients to exercise because of fatigue and pain, cardiovascular exercise will greatly improve their prognosis. Joint manipulation can affect the pain receptors in the joints of the spine and relieve tension in the body, thus helping to reduce pain and encourage exercise. Bio-feedback has shown great promise in fibromyalgia cases where the patient can remember one specific triggering event associated with the abrupt onset of their symptoms.
Acupuncture has shown success in pain reduction, treating depression and reducing fatigue as well as stress reduction.
Pharmaceutical drugs are also used to treat fibromyalgia. Most commonly anti-depressants, pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and sleeping aids are prescribed for the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Lyrica is the first medication approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia, however recent studies showed only about half of the study participants had symptom relief and others suffered side effects such as dizziness, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, blurred vision, weight gain, dry mouth and swelling in the hands and feet.
Although, none of these treatments is a cure in itself, all can be used to effectively manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Check with your healthcare practitioner to develop the best treatment method for you and your loved ones.
Article provided to the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce – GEM Publication March 2009 page 6.
About the Author
Jeff has been the CEO of Senior.com for 12 years. Senior.com has grown under Jeff’s leadership, in fact when the website was first launched, the member base grew form Zero to over 700,000 in less the 3 years. Current, has over 1,600,000 registered members.
Jeff received his MBA degree in Managerial Finance and Investor Relations from the University of Phoenix and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Finance and Accounting from California State University, Fullerton.View All Articles