What is Fibromyalgia?

This condition is mainly characterized by pain throughout the body. The cause of this condition is not clearly known but research suggests there is an involvement of the nervous system. The pain tends to come and go. Fibromyalgia is more common in women and it tends to start in middle adulthood. Also, you are more likely to have fibromyalgia if you have a history of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Any type of stress can trigger this condition. It can either be physical stress such as an illness or injury as well as emotional stress. 

What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

  • Widespread pain and stiffness 
  • Fatigue
  • Depression 
  • Sleep issues
  • Issues with thinking, memory and/or concentration commonly referred to as “fibro fog”
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Headaches  

How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed based on the patient’s history and physical exam. A high number of tender points is highly suggestive of fibromyalgia but they are not required for the diagnosis anymore. Since this condition is mainly diagnosed clinically, the symptoms have to last at least three months at a similar level and the patient should not have other health issues that could explain the pain. There is not a specific blood test that can diagnose fibromyalgia, but several lab tests can be sent to rule out other conditions such as autoimmune diseases. 

How is Fibromyalgia treated?

Different medications are used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, or naproxen can be used to alleviate widespread pain. Antidepressants such as duloxetine or amitriptyline are often used to ease fatigue and pain. Other therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling are recommended as long term management. Alternative medicine such as acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, and tai chi have also be known to work to improve symptoms. 

To learn more about this condition visit the American College of Rheumatology website. 

What are the differential diagnoses of Fibromyalgia?

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Polymyalgia rheumatic
  • Lyme disease 

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