Fibromyalgia is a widely misunderstood disease. A large number of people argue that it is a catch all diagnosis. The medical community has come a long way in the past ten years in understanding Fibromyalgia. All blood tests and x-rays come back normal. Diagnosis is made my ruling out other diseases and reviewing symptoms that have been present for more than 6 months. There are also 18 tender points (seen in the picture below) that Dr's assess, a diagnosis is made if 11 or more of the tender points are positive. The cause is unknown but it is widely accepted by the medical community that there is a problem with the area of the brain that processes pain. It is also common for those who have Fibromyalgia suffer from nerve pain.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome in which a person experiences body-wide pain, tenderness and stiffness in the joints, muscles, tendons and soft tissues. It causes sleep problems and can be associated with depression and anxiety. While it is not an Auto-Immune disease it is commonly found in individuals who are diagnosed with Auto-Immune diseases. The pain from Fibromyalgia comes in many forms it can be: a dull ache, a burning sensation or shooting pain. In my case it is a combination of all three.
Fibromyalgia also causes what is coined "Fibro Fog" which is a way of describing the constant brain fog that individuals face. It impacts memory, concentration and recall. The other hallmark symptom of Fibromyalgia is chronic fatigue. You wake just as tired in the morning as you were when you went to bed the night before. Other sleep disturbances are often found along with depression.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Memory and concentration problems
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Tension or migraine headaches
Treatment consists of : medications (muscle relaxants, pain medication, anti-depressants, sleep medications etc) , exercise, stress reduction strategies, Cognitive Behavioural Interventions
Interestingly enough I have found a large number of individuals who have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis have also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. In my case the two diagnosis came 3 weeks apart.
Have you been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia? Is that diagnosis in combination with an Auto-Immune Disease? Have you found anything that helps relieve your symptoms?