Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that is often difficult to connect with a specific cause. People who have fibromyalgia often experience chronic pain, fatigue, psychological distress, tender points on the body and sleep disturbances. It is a bit of a mysterious condition, as it shares some similarities with arthritis but is not classified as arthritis. Fibromyalgia is, however, considered a rheumatic condition because it impairs joints or soft tissue and causes chronic pain. It affects mostly women.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is frustrating to many because the cause and solutions for the disease are often difficult to pin down. For some, a traumatic injury or multiple repetitive injuries indicate the starting point for their fibromyalgia pain. Others link it to an illness, and in some it just occurs spontaneously. Researchers speculate that the central nervous system may have something to do with fibromyalgia occurring, and the syndrome may have a genetic component as well.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose. It shares a number of symptoms with other disorders so doctors often need to rule out many other possible causes of the pain and other symptoms before arriving at a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This process is improving, however, as more physicians are becoming familiar with the syndrome.
Some medications can help improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Drugs commonly used to treat depression as well as a drug for neuropathic pain have helped people with fibromyalgia syndrome gain some relief. Other strategies that have been useful for people with fibromyalgia include over-the-counter pain relievers, some complementary therapies and general positive lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and finding a more regular sleep pattern.
SOURCES: National Fibromyalgia Association; U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases