What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that is known to cause severe pain, stiffness and fatigue in the muscles. The pain suffered by the patient in this disorder usually increases when pressure is applied to the muscles. It is believed that in this disorder amplification of the pain signals occur which causes our brain to feel more pain than in other disorders. Fibromyalgia is more likely to affect women than men.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
The causes of Fibromyalgia largely remain unknown. Doctors are still not sure of the exact reasons why a person might suffer from this disorder. However, there are some factors that are associated with Fibromyalgia. Most researchers believe fibromyalgia results not from a single event but from a combination of many physical and emotional stressors. in most of the patients. Genetic and environmental factors are also known to play a significant role.
What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The hallmarks of the condition include diffuse chronic widespread pain throughout the body, stiffness, fatigue, cognitive difficulties and a sleep dysfunction. Frequently, patients describe a mood disturbance, trouble concentrating and a memory disturbance.
How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Fibromyalgia is not an easy disorder to diagnose and is often confused with other inflammatory disorders that cause muscle pain. Since the symptoms of this disorder are quite similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis, doctors often misinterpret the signs and are unable to make an accurate diagnosis. In order to diagnose this disorder correctly, the American College of Rheumatology has come up with diagnostic algorithim known as the “ACR criteria”.According to this criteria, patients who experience chronic widespread pain for greater than three months that cannot be explained by any other condition may be suffering from fibromyalgia. Though there are no known blood tests to diagnose this fibromyalgia, we may order blood work to rule out other causes of pain that may be confused with fibromyalgia such as thyroid disease, vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency anemia.
What are the Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia has no known cure. However, with treatment, we can ease your pain burden and significantly improve your quality of life. The symptoms cannot be effectively treated by using just one modality. Therefore, we use a holistic approach when treating fibromyalgia. Various medications can diminish your pain and improve the quality of your sleep. Currently, there are three medications that are approved by the FDA for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.
Dr. Gershon has participated in several of the clinical research trials of these medications. Many of our patients volunteered in these projects. Sometimes we will use other medications such as NSAIDS and tramadol . In addition to medications, we have teamed up with several different physical therapy centers and helped design programs specifically for patients who suffer with fibromyalgia. These are typically covered by most insurances. We also work closely with several cognitive behavioral therapists which is an effective tool that helps patients manage stressful life situations.
Ostalecki, Sharon, Fibromyalgia: The Complete Guide from Medical Experts and Patients, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007: 3-4.
Mickel, David, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME and Fibromyalgia: The Long Awaited Cure, Hertford: Authors OnLine Limited, 2004: 8-9.