Fibromyalgia: Treatment & Pain Relief
What Is Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a non-progressive disease characterized by a wide variety of symptoms, including fatigue and chronic muscle, ligament, and joint pain. Numerous factors can aggravate these symptoms, and it’s common for this pain to prevent sufferers from enjoying daily activities and, in many cases, from getting a good night’s sleep. In severe cases, it can be incapacitating.
While we don’t really know what causes fibromyalgia, we do know people often feel like they simply woke up one day with it. While the presence of a minor injury may be a trigger, its onset is often very subtle.
Difficult to Diagnose
Fibromyalgia is a hard condition to diagnose because there is no singular cause, it can be due to the presence of several other conditions, or it is a diagnosis of exclusion. That means there is no single test to prove its presence.
It’s not surprising, then, that a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is sometimes given in error. Some doctors may make the diagnosis too quickly, and others may decide never to make it at all. As a result many people are told they will have to live with chronic pain when several treatment options are available. Often little or no testing is ever done to find the root cause.
No single test can detect fibromyalgia. However, there is at least one telltale sign on physical exam: a pattern of specific “tender spots” — muscles and tendons that are painful when touched. They cannot be located in any single body part, must be present for at least three months, and must include 11 of 18 defined locations.
Proper diagnosis requires a doctor with specialized expertise in neuro-musculoskeletal medicine since tender points can be related to muscle, nerve, ligament, tendon, arthritis, immune disorders, or even vascular disease.
Primary & Secondary Fibromyalgia
Unlike primary fibromyalgia, where the source for the problem cannot be found, secondary fibromyalgia occurs when there are associated treatable conditions which are frequently missed. These include strained ligaments, muscular spasms, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, thoracic outlet syndrome and radiculopathy – a condition of the nerve roots.
Other commonly occurring conditions that can contribute to secondary fibromyalgia include: peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, cardiovascular or peripheral arterial disease, hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, and toxic environmental exposure. If one of these problems is present, then fibromyalgia is either worsened by or secondary to the underlying cause.
There are many other factors that can make the diagnosis of fibromyalgia more difficult. These include symptoms of numbness and tingling, muscle twitching, impaired coordination, morning stiffness, skin sensitivity, pain without boundaries, sleep disorders, headache, or jaw pain, mental or physical fatigue, cognitive impairment, and memory problems.
Associated conditions include autonomic dysfunction, swollen extremities, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bladder, and PMS.
Underlying factors include depression, stress or anxiety, nutritional or metabolic insufficiency, weather sensitivity, and hormonal imbalance. All of these may contribute to associated chronic fatigue; however, other obscure factors such as hidden infection, bleeding disorders, and incomplete expression of rheumatic disease may be involved.
A great deal of the pain and fatigue from fibromyalgia can be relieved by obtaining a complete diagnosis that emphasizes finding those conditions that can be treated and then reducing the total number of things that interfere with getting well. We call this reducing Total Load.
Fortunately there are numerous non-surgical specialty care techniques that are effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia. If you experience unexplained achiness, persistent fatigue, or bladder problems, bowel headache and difficulty sleeping for three months or more, please feel free to call our office at 864-235-1834, and we will be happy to make an appointment for you. We are dedicated to adding quality to life.