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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a health condition which affects up to 4% of people

Introduction

Fibromyalgia is medical condition of unknown cause. It gives rise to many symptoms and can affect a number of parts of the body.

Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia have abnormalities in their nerves - they are more sensitive to normal pain signals compared to people without the condition. In addition, people with fibromyalgia have been found to have difficulty achieving deep sleep compared to others.

A number of factors are said to give rise to this situation, including physical or mental trauma, viral infections, disorders of immune system function, stress and anxiety. For more information on the causes of fibromyalgia, follow our link to What is fibromyalgia?

Symptoms of fibromylagia

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome – a collection of symptoms – so every patient has a different selection of symptoms experienced at a different intensity.

Most people suffering from fibromyalgia complain of pain and tenderness in muscles and associated soft tissues. The common muscle groups affected are in the neck and shoulders, but fibromyalgia can give rise to pain in practically any muscle of the body.

Other symptoms include unexplained tiredness or fatigue, intolerance to exercise, poor concentration and memory.

Follow the link for more information on fibromyalgia symptoms.

Who gets fibromyalgia?

Estimates suggest that up to 4% of the population may suffer from fibromyalgia and the condition is more commonly found in those between the ages of 20 and 50.

Women are more prone to the condition – 90% of people with fibromyalgia are female. Those who worry more, or are more anxious, and people suffering from stress at home or work are also more likely to get the condition.

There is a suggestion that fibromyalgia can run in families and have a genetic component although it is clear that other external factors are also involved.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

It is unfortunately the case that not all members of the medical profession fully understand fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, if you think you have the condition, it is important that you seek your doctor’s advice in the first instance – if nothing else, to exclude the possibility of other health problems.

There is no single test which will help make the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Symptoms may mimic other health issues and your doctor may want to do blood tests to eliminate the possibility of conditions.

The American College of Rheumatology has developed a system where doctors look for abnormal tenderness or muscle pain in those suspected of suffering from fibromyalgia. For more information on how fibromyalgia is diagnosed, go to our page on What is fibromyalgia?

Treatment of fibromyalgia

It is not known what causes fibromyalgia and as there is no clear underlying cause to target, treatment of fibromyalgia tends to be focused on the relief of pain and other forms of symptom management.

Conventional treatments of fibromyalgia include:

  • Painkilling or anti-inflammatory medication
  • Other prescribed medication
  • Behavioural therapies
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Physiotherapy
  • Exercise

However, many consider that fibromyalgia is a condition which is best treated with an integrative or complementary approach, using both orthodox and alternative therapies:

  • Diet
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Aromatherapy
  • Reflexology
  • Homeopathy
  • Herbal remedies

Follow the link for more information on fibromyalgia treatments using complementary medicine.


Further reading

What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia symptoms
Fibromyalgia treatment
Fibromyalgia self help
Fibromyalgia diet