What is one of the most common rheumatological conditions?
Fibromyalgia syndrome is an extra-articular disease characterized by diffuse pain, fatigue of skeletal muscles and a decrease in the level of pain threshold on palpation in characteristic places designated as “pain points”. Signs of fibromyalgia are a relatively new illness for rheumatologists in most countries. The absence of inflammation symptoms in muscles during morphological examination excluded the use of the term “fibrositis”, therefore, in the last decade, the name of this pathology as fibromyalgia has taken root in the medicine.
Nowadays it is one of the most frequent disorders of outpatient practice, occupying the 2nd – 3rd place among all reasons for referring to a rheumatologist.
What are the first signs of Fibromyalgia?
There is a vivid variety of fibromyalgia symptoms, including:
- diffuse pain in the left or right side of the body, above or below the waist;
- axial pain (in the neck, in the region of the anterior chest wall, in the back);
- poor sleep. According to the studies, the lack of a sense of rest after sleep is noted by up to 100% of patients;
- stiffness, which is noted by 70% of patients usually in the morning and evening hours, its duration can range from 1 to 24 hours (on average, about 10 hours);
- rarely swelling in the joints and numbness of the extremities.
Fibromyalgia symptoms in women (aged 30-50 years) are more frequent than fibromyalgia in men. The ratio of females and males is 5-10: 1. As a rule, the syndrome develops among people of intellectual work. As for the children (94% are girls), fibromyalgia causes usually occur during puberty; only a few cases of the disorder are noted under 13 years. The elderly can suffer from this syndrome either.
The outbreak of the disease, normally, is gradual with a slow increase in pain over many years, so that the first step to fibromyalgia treatment made by patients occurs 8-10 years after the onset of the illness. The duration of the pain syndrome is more than 3 months. The presence of another clinical pathology doesn’t exclude the diagnosis of FS.
What causes fibromyalgia?
There is a number of factors that provoke symptoms of fibromyalgia:
- climate features;
- emotional stress;
- viruses or infections;
- injuries or other sad events, like a car accident;
- other illnesses.
Fibromyalgia syndrome may develop for no apparent reason, however mainly its onset can be associated with the transferred physical or mental stress, weather change.
How to diagnose fibromyalgia?
The first thing you have to do is to consult a specialist in Advanced Medical Care. You will have to describe your medical and family history, possible fibromyalgia symptoms and undergo some studies. One of them is a detection of possible painful points in certain anatomical places using palpation or a dolorimeter device, which allows to give a dosed load in the area of painful points. The use of this device objectifies and differentiates the diagnosis.
Curing fibromyalgia syndrome is a rather difficult task. This process should begin with the diagnosis and clarification of their condition. If possible, our clinic identifies provoking factors, gives recommendations on the regime and behavior. Taking a warm bath in the morning, removing additional loads or organizing rest can already give patients relief.
Therapy with unknown etiopathogenetic factors, which is symptomatic, directed against the leading symptoms of fibromyalgia. Physiotherapy measures, unfortunately, give a short-term effect. Among them:
- thermal procedures, with the effectiveness of 30-40%;
- massage – 20%;
- sunbathing -12%;
- exercise therapy – 9%.
Analgesics can also be used for evaluating the illness.
FAQ about Fibromyalgia
What is the best treatment for fibromyalgia?
Since the symptoms of fibromyalgia vary from patient to patient, treatment programs must be personalized for each person. Firstly, one of the most spread ways of curing this disorder is a reduction of stress. A good effect for reducing stress is given by biofeedback and relaxation techniques. Sometimes, changes in environmental factors (such as noise, temperature, weather changes) may strongly influence the symptoms of fibromyalgia. All this should be accompanied by a normal and balanced sleep.
Secondly, low-intensity physical activities such as swimming, cycling, or walking are especially useful in treating fibromyalgia. It’s also important to keep a healthy diet. It is recommended to avoid drinking alcohol and coffee in the evening in order to improve sleep. In the presence of irritable bowel syndrome, foods that provoke disturbances in the work of the gastrointestinal tract should be also avoided.
Tridly, medical treatment is also a part of curing this condition. Massage and acupuncture are known to lower a constant pain in different body parts. As for the drugs, traditionally, tricyclic antidepressants, commonly used to treat depression, have been considered the most effective.
What foods trigger fibromyalgia pain?
There are several products that can affect the state of patients with fibromyalgia. One of them is sugar, which triggers inflammatory responses. Thus, consuming a lot of sugar is not the best option when you suffer from fibromyalgia. In addition, high sugar content often leads to weight gain, which in turn puts more stress on the joints and muscles of the body. Many people with fibromyalgia report worsening symptoms when drinking alcohol. Moreover, it’s beneficial to avoid carbohydrates and fried foods. Cookies, biscuits, white rice and white bread can spike blood sugar and then infuriate it. These uneven levels can lead to fatigue and worse pain levels in individuals with fibromyalgia. Over time, this unevenness can damage the insulin receptors and make it difficult for the body to control blood sugar and energy levels as a result.
Will fibromyalgia ever go away?
There is a lot of research concerning this topic. Nowadays, it’s estimated that in most cases fibromyalgia is chronic and is observed throughout a person’s life. This condition depends on external factors and may periodically improve or worsen. Without a specific treatment, the disease leads to a significant decrease in the quality of life and ends up with various repercussions. Regardless of your stage of illness, it’s vital to take all possible measures to defeat the disease as long as, according to statistics, 30 per cent of the patients tend to get better after the start of the therapy.
How can I ease fibromyalgia pain?
Conditions such as irritable bowel, obesity and autoimmune diagnoses are common consequences of this disease. These symptoms are one of the most painful among those who suffer from fibromyalgia. However, provided keeping a healthy diet, you may significantly ease your ache. Some of the best researchers in the field agree that foods that are low in calories and high in fiber can help cure this condition. We find significant amounts of them in fruits, berries and vegetables. That’s why it is recommended that such natural foods be an integral part of the diet of people with fibromyalgia. Omega-3 is also an essential fatty acid. It is a nutrient that your body needs to, among other things, fight inflammatory responses, but it cannot be produced on its own. Hence, you need to get omega-3s in fish, walnuts, flax seeds, tofu or capsules. Decreased energy levels and fatigue are common symptoms among those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Therefore, it is very important to increase the proportion of protein in your nutrition, including consumption of legumes, nuts, eggs and white meat.