Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fibromyalgia - Signs and Symptoms

Sometimes you wake up stiff in the morning. You may hurt all over and frequently feel tired. You have gone to the doctors and they can't find anything wrong with you. If you have these symptoms then you may suffer from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is an increasingly recognized chronic pain characterized by muscles aches, pain and stiffness. Some have soft tissue tenderness and general fatigue and sleep problems. Other may have headaches, problems with thinking and memory, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet and if you are a woman you have painful menstrual periods.

So far the causes for fibromyalgia are unknown. There could be a number of factors involved such as stressful or traumatic events, illness, repetitive injuries and certain diseases. Sometimes it just happens on its own. Some researches say it is genetic. Some doctors say it could be chemical changes in the brain while others say it could start from a viral infection.

Fibromyalgia affects about 1 in 50 Americans. It occurs more often in women than in men. It usually develops in middle adulthood and it can occur in children. If you have a family history of fibromyalgia you may get it too. Another risk factor could be if you have a rheumatic disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. People who have ankylosing spondylitis have been know to develop fibromyalgia as well.

Right now there is no test that can confirm fibromyalgia. Doctors need to rely on the patient's history of complaints and reported symptoms. You may have to go through a series of medical tests like blood tests and x-rays. These will probably come back normal. It has been estimated that it could take as long as five years to be diagnosed with fibromyaligia. The American College of Rheumatology came up with a general classification for fibromyalgia and the criteria that has been established is that you must have widespread aching for three months and have at least 11 locations on the body that are very tender under mild pressure. These guidelines are used to help with the assessment and study of the condition. Fibromyalgia is not progressive and doesn't lead to other conditions. The symptoms, however, can lead to depression and lack of sleep. It can interfere with your everyday life.

Fibromyalgia can be treated by changing you life style. Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep are good places to start. Over the counter pain medications may help with the chronic joint pain. The doctor may prescribe Tramadol, which is a non-narcotic pain reliever. He may also prescribe low doses of anti-depressants. This is for serotonin building that may provide relief for sleep and pain. Higher levels may be prescribed if the patient is experiencing depression as well.

People with fibromyalgia have a good prognosis. Now more than ever, the disease is getting recognition and people who suffer are more educated about the disease and after making some lifestyle changes are having a better quality of life. Most people do improve over time.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Fibromyalgia