Pain management is one of the most difficult and complicated topics in medicine, and fibromyalgia is not an exception to that. Chronic pain can be very challenging to address, and sometimes it does take trial and error. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is also very difficult to diagnose and is sometimes misdiagnosed multiple times. This is due to the symptoms of the disorder, which are common to many other painful conditions. However, there are options for treatment and help, and many people can find relief from fibromyalgia symptoms. Fibromyalgia does not have a cure, but is treatable.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The symptoms of fibromyalgia vary based on the person, but there are several that characterize the condition. The main symptom is pain, which tends to be muscular and skeletal. This does not come from injury, but feels sharp and aching, and is usually located in more than one area of the body. Other symptoms seem to branch off from this pain, as continuous, chronic pain can create other issues. Common symptoms include fatigue, trouble sleeping, dry eyes and headaches. This usually comes from the pain disrupting the patient’s sleep cycle. Depression and anxiety are also common symptoms, along with feeling “foggy” or disoriented. This is common because pain does affect one’s mental health. Stomach problems, bladder problems, and dry eyes are also symptoms.
Cause of Fibromyalgia
One of the reasons why fibromyalgia is so difficult to diagnose is that there is no officially identified cause of it. Some people develop it over time, others develop it quickly after a traumatic event. There is also no universal or official understanding of what fibromyalgia actually is. It is possible that it could be an issue with the nerves and spinal cord where the nerves begin to misunderstand painful and non painful nervous responses. Genetics also seem to play a part in the development of the condition. There is currently no identifiable cause of fibromyalgia. All treatment that has been developed so far is a way to treat symptoms, but not treat a cause.
The main treatment for fibromyalgia is pain management. This can be difficult. Another focus is to maintain and improve the affected person’s quality of life. There are two main categories of treatment: medication and self care.
For pain, fibromyalgia sufferers can take over the counter NSAIDs to help relieve their pain. Most doctors will not use narcotics as treatment for fibromyalgia because there is a great deal of evidence that suggests that they do not work for this kind of pain. Other medications that may be prescribed include antidepressants, sleep aids, and antiseizure medications. Some people may not have all the symptoms of fibromyalgia and may not need all the different medicines available.
Self Care: Therapies
There are several available options for therapies including mental health counseling, physical therapy, massage therapy, and occupational therapies. Self care includes eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and learning meditation. These can all help greatly with fibromyalgia symptoms.
Some other conditions and disorders that share similar symptoms include:
This condition develops over time and is also extremely painful in many areas of the body. Arthritis can also happen at any age. A big difference is that arthritis pain is usually localized to the joints of the body.
IBS, Celiac Disease, or Crohn’s Disease
Much of the gastrointestinal distress or pain from fibromyalgia is similar to that of IBS or Crohn’s disease. Many doctors will rule this out through colonoscopy, medication testing, and other tests.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
In the early stages, MS can seem similar to fibromyalgia in many ways. It also produces severe nerve pain, but as it progresses it is much more obvious than fibromyalgia.
Living with Fibromyalgia
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, this can seem overwhelming, but millions of people live normal lives even though their diagnosis has been made. There is also nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. Treatment options have been expanding for fibromyalgia over the last few years, and many doctors have been able to successfully treat patients with fibromyalgia. There is still research being completed on fibromyalgia, so hopefully a cure will come, but until then, managing the symptoms is more than possible.