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Know the basics

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), commonly known as fibromyalgia, is a disorder issues caused by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain.

The condition is long-term can greatly affect your daily life. People with fibromyalgia often face problems such as fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. They might experience other conditions such as tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

How common is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is relatively common. Nearly 1 in 20 people may have fibromyalgia to some degrees. It commonly affects more females than males. 90% of cases diagnosed occur in female.  It can affect patients at any age. The condition typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Symptoms of fibromyalgia sometimes occur after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In some cases, symptoms can gradually get worse with no triggering event at all.

The common symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • Widespread pain on both sides of body, above and below the waist that last for at least 3 months.
  • Fatigue because of a low quality of sleep such as sleep disruption because of pain, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • The ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks may decrease.
  • Other problems, for example depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

The pain and lack of sleep will impair your ability to function at home and at work. Many people develop headache, depression and anxiety, and cramping in the stomach. You should contact your doctor if you have chronic muscle pain and overwhelming fatigue.

Know the causes

What causes fibromyalgia?

Causes of fibromyalgia have not been clearly known. But scientists believe that it might have something to do with the brain signals and chemicals. These might be the potential causes of fibromyalgia:

  • Genetics: There may be certain genetic mutations that may make people more susceptible to developing the disorder.
  • Infections:Some illnesses can trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
  • Physical or emotional trauma, for example post-traumatic stress disorder, such as:
    • An injury or infection;
    • Giving birth;
    • Having an operation;
    • The breakdown of a relationship.

Repeated nerve stimulation is thought to cause fibromyalgia. The increase in some certain chemicals in the brain can trigger the pain transmitters. In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for fibromyalgia?

There are many risk factors for fibromyalgia, such as:

  • Fibromyalgia occurs more often in women than in men.
  • Family history.
  • Rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus make people be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Before diagnosis for fibromyalgia is difficult as you need to test all 18 tender points before the diagnosis can be confirmed. Nowadays, a fibromyalgia diagnosis can be made if a person has had widespread pain for more than three months – with no underlying medical condition that could cause the pain.

Fibromyalgia can be diagnosed through blood tests that can help doctor to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms, including:

  • Complete blood count;
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate;
  • Thyroid function tests.

How is fibromyalgia treated?

Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help. Treatment options may include a combination of the following:

Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep quality., including:

  • Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), tramadol (Ultram, Conzip). Narcotics are not advised, because they can lead to dependence and may even worsen the pain over time.
  • Antidepressants such as Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella), amitriptyline or fluoxetine (Prozac).
  • Anti-seizure drugs such as Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise), pregabalin (Lyrica). Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain.
  • Therapy: training about strategies for dealing with stressful situations. such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling. Talking with a counsellor can help strengthen your belief in your abilities and teach you strategies for dealing with stressful situations. Therapy such as acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, and myofascial release can bring temporary relief for patients. However, it is hard to get long-term therapy treatment as it might not be covered by insurance.
  • Lifestyle changes – such as exercise programmes and relaxation techniques.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage fibromyalgia?

When you are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you should learn as much as you can about this condition. Understanding the condition may help you find a way to cope. This extends to your family and friends as well. Fibromyalgia patients often get less sympathy and support because other people don’t understand the pain these patients are going through because there are no physical symptoms.

Support groups. Many people with fibromyalgia find that support groups provide an important network where they can talk to others living with the condition. Having a counselor can help strengthen your belief in treatment and teach you how to cope better. Support groups have shown great result in helping people living with fibromyalgia.

Exercise regularly. Exercise in particular has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia. At first, exercise may increase your pain. However, doing it gradually and regularly often decreases symptoms. One of the best things you can do is low-impact aerobic exercise. When you are used to low level intensity exercise, you can move to walking, jogging and tennis. Appropriate exercises may include swimming or water exercise, stationary bicycling and exercising on ski-type machines. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake, quit smoking and alcohol. Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.

Get enough sleep. Poor sleep often goes together with fibromyalgia and it can make the pain worsen and can lead to fatigue and depression. You can find techniques to fall asleep easier at night while limiting daytime napping. Practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and wake up at the same time, to train your body to a certain schedule of sleep.

Reduce stress. Give yourself time to relax throughout the day, but try not to change your daily routine. You should have a plan for relaxation and reducing emotional stress. Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.

Take it easy. Divide your activity throughout the day. You will have bad day and you will have good day. If you try to do too much on one day you might feel tired by the next. You shouldn’t over exert and learn ways to care for yourself.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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