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What is FIBROMYALGIA?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disorder that is characterized by extreme pain and tenderness in multiple joints and muscles.

Fibromyalgia is an arthritis related condition however, the joints are not affected so they are not deformed or deteriorated as they would be with arthritis.

There are many symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, no two people with this condition will experience the same symptom the exact same way.

This is just one of the reasons diagnosing fibromyalgia is a challenge for healthcare providers.  The difficulty of making an accurate diagnosis and beginning to develop a treatment plan for the patient are just some of the reasons that patients suffering with fibromyalgia often become depressed and perhaps even withdrawn.  It can be an endless circle, the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and the frustration at a lack of a diagnosis and absence of a clear treatment plan can be an incredibly frustrating matter for the sufferer.

The most prominent symptom of fibromyalgia is pain.  The pain of fibromyalgia is not localized but rather felt all over especially in the lower back and arms.  About 90% of people who have fibromyalgia will experience fatigue and sleep disturbance.  Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include morning stiffness, frequent urination, a tingling sensation in the hands, arms, feet and face, migraine headaches, abdominal pain and restless leg syndrome.

There is no specific test used to diagnose fibromyalgia making it difficult to diagnose people with this syndrome.  People with fibromyalgia often look healthy and have no outward signs of pain or fatigue. Again, this can certainly work against the patient when seeking a diagnosis.  Although it seems to be better than it was several years ago, a patient can still feel as if they are fighting for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.  Some may even feel like “it is all in my head”.

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed by the presence of specific fibromyalgia symptoms, such as the presence of widespread pain along with tenderness at specific locations and chronic fatigue.  Diagnosing fibromyalgia can take years and countless visits to a variety of physicians.  Finding a doctor who is willing to listen to you and is very familiar with this condition is important.

There is no known direct cause of fibromyalgia.  Treatment options include medications to diminish pain and improve sleep.  Exercise programs that improve cardiovascular fitness and stretch muscles and relaxation techniques to help ease muscle tension and anxiety can be beneficial in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Some people have mild symptoms and will need very little treatment while others will require comprehensive care program including medication for pain and sleep as well as an inclusive exercise program.

If you think you might have fibromyalgia make an appointment to see your doctor.  Your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia and can customize a treatment plan to meet your individual needs.

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