Fibromyalgia is a widespread muscular pain and fatigue condition. Pain and tenderness is felt throughout the body, not just in one specific muscle or area.
The word fibromyalgia means pain in the fibrous tissues in the body. The pain originates from the muscles, tendons and ligaments which are the connective tissues in the body. Fibromyalgia is often associated with chronic fatigue, decreased pain threshold and stress. It is much more common in women than it is in men affecting women 9 times more than men. It usually develops between the ages of 30 and 60 years old.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
- Widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body.
- Poor sleep patterns.
- Muscles may feel soft and doughy rather than tense and tight.
- Myofacial trigger points are usually found in the muscles.
- Patients complain they ache all over or feel they have pulled muscles or overworked them.
- Poor muscle endurance.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Dysmenorrhea (cramps or painful menstruation)
- Chronic headaches.
Although the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known it is thought the following may be factors:
- Infection (viral or bacterial)
- Car accident or trauma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus (an auto-immune disease - like a self-allergy where the body attacks its own cells and tissues)
Changes in weather (or air pressure), cold or draughty environments, hormonal fluctuations (premenstrual and menopausal states), stress, depression, anxiety and over-exertion can make symptoms worse.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
- Drugs that improve the patients ability to sleep may be prescribed although sleeping pills themselves are often avoided as long term dependance can occur. Medicines that boost the body's level of serotonin and noradrenalin can help sleep, pain and immune system function are commonly prescribed.
- Acupuncture, acupressure, nutrition, relaxation techniques, osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic care, therapeutic massage and hydrotherapy are also common treatments for fibromyalgia.
- Exercise programmes can also be effective forms of treatment.
- Cognitive therapy or psychotherapy is also a treatment option.