Fibromyalgia, also known as Fibrositis, is a medical condition characterized by widespread muscle pain and tenderness, fatigue, altered sleep, memory, and mood. People with Fibromyalgia have a reduced threshold to pain; they feel more pain than people without the disorder. Overall, the pain inflicted by the condition can affect the quality of life of an individual.
The challenging situation with this is that getting a diagnosis is difficult because there is no single test to confirm a diagnosis. Although diagnosis has improved with the advancement of more objective diagnostic criteria, misdiagnosis of this condition is still common. Some health practitioners may confuse it for a form of arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders.
Anybody can have it. It is not age-specific or gender-specific. However, the condition is more common in women than in men. It affects people of all age groups. However, the chances of having Fibromyalgia increases with age.
Pain is the most common symptom. Widespread pain, which always makes an individual feel fatigued, is an indication of Fibromyalgia. The pain can be milder for some people and more severe for others. It may feel like a deep ache, or a stabbing, burning pain. Suppose the pain has been at a similar level for at least three months. In that case, the patient is likely to be suffering from Fibromyalgia.
The diagnostic criteria for Fibromyalgia recognize five regions of pain. The pain areas are the left upper body, right upper body, left lower body, right lower body, and low back. A physician will consider a diagnosis if you have generalized pain, defined as pain in at least 4 of 5 pain regions.
People living with Fibromyalgia tend to feel exhausted even when they have not undergone any form of physical labour or mental work. Their pain disrupts their sleep, and they will wake up tired. Other symptoms include:
- Chronic headaches
- Altered sleep and memory
- Altered mood
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Dry eyes
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Anxiety and Depression.
A patient has Fibromyalgia when they meet all of the following criteria:
- Generalized pain, that is, pain in at least 4 of 5 pain regions.
- Symptoms have been present at a similar level for at least three months.
- Widespread Pain Index (WPI) ≥7 and Symptom Severity Scale (SSS) score ≥5 OR WPI of 4-6 and SSS score ≥9.
There is no definite cause; however, a combination of factors can contribute to the chances of developing Fibromyalgia, including:
- Genetic factors – Fibromyalgia is often hereditary. If you have a family member with this condition, you are at a higher risk of developing it.
- Infections – A history of Pneumonia, Epstein-Barr virus and some gastrointestinal disorders can trigger Fibromyalgia.
- Gender- the condition is twice as common in women than in men.
Presently, there is no known cure for Fibromyalgia. People living with Fibromyalgia should be on medications that help relieve their symptoms. Common medicines include pain relievers, anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs. These drugs help relieve symptoms but are not the real solution.
Natural therapy, including dietary and lifestyle modification, provides the best hope for sufferers. Eating a balanced and healthy diet and reducing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can help reduce stress and improve mood. Deficiencies in some vitamins and minerals might worsen Fibromyalgia symptoms, so it is beneficial for patients to eat foods rich in these vitamins. Consuming food rich in Vitamin D, Magnesium, Soy and Creatine may be effective in relieving symptoms.
Supplements can be harmful if taken in excessive quantity; strictly adhere to the dosage prescribed by your physician. It is essential to talk to your physician before using these dietary supplements to avoid interaction with your conventional medications.
Exercises improve the conditions of Fibromyalgia patients significantly. The patient should speak with a doctor before starting an exercise regimen. A physiotherapist should set up a suitable exercise program. For people with Fibromyalgia, moderation is key while exercising.
Getting enough rest and sleep helps combat the fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia. There are many safe methods to enhance sleep before resorting to medications. For example, limiting noise, light and screen time before bedtime will improve sleep quality. Meditation and Deep-breathing will equally induce sleep.
The frustration of dealing with Fibromyalgia can be overwhelming. Others often misunderstand the condition, so therapy (group or one-on-one therapy) will go a long way in helping the patient. Creating a solid Doctor-Patient relationship is necessary. Giving your doctor a clear picture of all Integrative health approaches, you use will enable him to formulate practical treatment goals.
A combination of therapies may be effective in dealing with Fibromyalgia. To conclude, be gentle with yourself and find the best treatment plan to improve your quality of life.