Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that causes generalised musculoskeletal pain across your whole body that's often described as a dull ache. The constant nature of the pain is thought to be caused by changes in how your brain and spinal cord receive and manage pain signals, and these changes may occur due to repeated nerve stimulation, which can sensitise pain receptors. There's not always an identifiable cause when a person develops fibromyalgia, but it tends to run in families and can also be triggered by stress and trauma, such as being involved in a car accident. Additionally, those who develop fibromyalgia often have certain underlying health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for fibromyalgia.
In addition to musculoskeletal pain, persistent fatigue is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, and you may wake in the morning and still feel tired despite getting sufficient sleep. Memory issues are also common, and people with this condition often report being unable to focus and having a reduced attention span.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your doctor will make their diagnosis by taking details of your symptoms and conducting a physical exam, which will involve applying pressure to certain areas of your body to determine the degree of pain present. They will also take blood samples to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as coeliac disease and arthritis.
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for fibromyalgia based on the severity of your symptoms. You may be prescribed painkillers, muscle relaxants or antidepressants, which can help with mood and fatigue. Your doctor can also refer you for physiotherapy, which can help reduce pain by improving muscle strength and flexibility. You may also benefit from being assessed by an occupational therapist who can recommend changes to your work area or show you new ways of carrying out certain tasks that will reduce the pressure on your body. Additionally, your doctor may recommend you see a cognitive behavioural therapist for counselling. Your counsellor will provide a safe, confidential place for you to discuss your emotional state and help you to develop coping strategies for periods when you feel stressed, which may help with pain levels.
Although there's no cure for fibromyalgia, the treatments that are currently available can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. So, if you have symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
For more information, contact a doctor today.