Fibromyalgia

October 30, 2014 | By | Reply READ MORE...

- Dr. Niriksha Khasgiwala

DEFINITION

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread bone and muscle pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help which is described further in this article.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress.In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

  • Widespread pain: A constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
  • Fatigue: People often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients have other sleep disorders,such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • Cognitive difficulties: A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
  • Other Problems: Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression,tension headaches, and Temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders,Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS) pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.

CAUSES

No one exactly knows what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together.These may include:

  • Genetics: It tends to run in families.
  • Infections: Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
  • Physical or emotional trauma: Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.

Why does it hurt?
Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). 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.

RISK FACTORS

  • Gender:  Seen more often in women than in men.
  • Family history: You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.
  • Rheumatic disease: If you have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

COMPLICATIONS

  • The pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job.
  • The frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition also can result in depression and health-related anxiety.

TESTS & DIAGNOSIS

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.

BLOOD TESTS

While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include:

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

TREATMENT & DRUGS

In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms.

MEDICATIONS

Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include:

  • Pain relievers.
  • Antidepressants: May help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia and to help promote sleep.
  • Anti-seizure drugs: Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain.

LIFESTYLE & REMEDIES

Self-care is critical in the management of fibromyalgia.
Reduce stress: 

  • Avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress.
  • Allow yourself time each day to relax. That may mean learning how to say no without guilt.
  • But try not to change your routine completely. People who quit work or drop all activity tend to do worse than do those who remain active.
  • Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.

Get enough sleep: 

  • Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential.
  • In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.

Diet:

  •  Some people with fibromyalgia think that they should avoid refined flour and sugar, sugar substitutes, the caramel color in some soft drinks, or carbonated drinks in general.

Physiotherapy/Exercise regularly:

  • At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it gradually and regularly often decreases symptoms.
  • Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, cycling and water aerobics.
  • A physiotherapist can help you develop a home exercise program.
  • Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.

Pace yourself:

  • Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have more bad days.
  • Moderation means not overdoing it on your good days, but likewise it means not self-limiting or doing too little on the days when symptoms flare.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: 

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Limit your caffeine intake.
  • Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

  • Dry Needling/Acupuncture:  The needles cause changes in blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Massage (Soft Tissue) Therapy:  It involves use of different manipulative techniques to move your body’s muscles and soft tissues. Reduces your heart rate, relax your muscles, improve range of motion in your joints and increase production of your body’s natural painkillers. It often helps relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Yoga and tai chi: These practices combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing and relaxation.

COPING & SUPPORT

  • Besides dealing with the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, you also may have to deal with the frustration of having a condition that’s often misunderstood.
  • In addition to educating yourself about fibromyalgia, you may find it helpful to provide your family, friends and co-workers with information.
  • It’s also helpful to know that you’re not alone. Organizations such as the National Fibromyalgia Association can help put you in touch with others who have had similar experiences and can understand what you’re going through.

MISCONCEPTIONS

Get the facts about these common fibromyalgia myths. Learning all you can about fibromyalgia is the first step toward gaining control of your symptoms.
The top misconception is that people think fibromyalgia isn’t a real medical problem or that it is “all in your head”. It’s sometimes thought of as a ‘garbage-can diagnosis’ — if doctors can’t find anything else wrong with you, they say you have fibromyalgia.
Fact: In people who have fibromyalgia, the brain and spinal cord process pain signals differently. As a result, they react more strongly to touch and pressure, with a heightened sensitivity to pain. It is a real physiological and neurochemical problem.
But there’s no easy fix. It takes lifestyle changes and small steps toward achieving wellness. It’s a process.

HOW DOES PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP?

We at PHYSIOREHAB are seeing that people who have fibromyalgia can manage their symptoms with lifestyle changes to improve their overall functioning and quality of life. And there’s hope for the future. Regular Exercises and pain management techniques help them maintain their symptoms.Hats off to them! It needs a strong will power to keep going.But there’s no easy fix. It takes lifestyle changes and small steps toward achieving wellness. It’s a process.

At PHYSIOREHAB, we have been treating patients with fibromyalgia and have been successful at managing their symptoms.We empathize with them and that itself really boosts their confidence and motivates to keep their OWN HEALTH as their priority.

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