FAQs on Fibromyalgia from a Phoenix Pain Management Center

Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by soreness and aching in muscles, joints, and tendons in most regions of the body. There are certain measurable changes in the body that occur with fibromyalgia, which cause specific symptoms. In addition, people with fibromyalgia are at higher risk for other arthritic and musculoskeletal diseases.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Widespread pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia. Other symptoms include:

Sleep disturbance

Headaches

Depression

Daytime fatigue

Alternating constipation and diarrhea

Numbness/tingling in the feet and hands

Dizziness

Weakness

What causes fibromyalgia?

Researchers do not understand the cause of fibromyalgia. However there are several theories about the etiology. One theory suggests that stress is a causative factor. This contributes to the lack of sleep. Without enough sleep, your body doesn’t produce adequate pain-regulating chemicals. Another theory suggests that emotional and physical factors contribute to fibromyalgia.

Who is at risk for fibromyalgia?

Women develop fibromyalgia more than men, with around 85% of persons acquiring the diagnosis being of the female gender. U.S. studies suggest that around 3% of women have this condition, which contributes to 4.5 million people. Fibromyalgia is the second most common ailment related to the musculoskeletal system after osteoarthritis, so another risk factor is a diagnosis of another rheumatic condition.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made based on a medical history and physical examination. Criteria include presence of widespread pain, presence of tender regions, and abnormal sensitivity to light pressure applied to areas of the body. Testing is done to rule out serious medical conditions, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the treatment options for fibromyalgia?

Individuals with fibromyalgia receive treatment based on specific factors related to overall health, number of tender points, medical history, and severity of symptoms. Options include:

Medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and ketoprofen, help decrease pain and inflammation. Acetaminophen is a safe, effective analgesic, and for severe pain, narcotic analgesics are used. Antidepressants are used for pain, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. The three FDA-approved drugs for fibromyalgia include Savella, Cymbalta, and Lyrica.

 

Botox injections – Botulinum toxin (Botox) will paralyze muscle groups when injected. This is done to relieve tension and alleviate pain. In a recent research study, participants who received Botox injections for fibromyalgia reported functional ability improvement and pain relief.

 

Trigger point injections (TPIs) – For tender points, the doctor may choose to injection a long-acting anesthetic into these areas. TPIs show an efficacy rate of approximately 98%, according to clinical studies.

 

Acupuncture – This ancient Chinese therapy is used to restore energy flow and stimulate production of endorphins in the brain (neurotransmitters that improve mood and relieve pain). Fine needles are inserted into many areas of the body during a session, which lasts approximately 20-30 minutes.

 

Nutritional supplements – There are several over-the-counter (OTC) products used for fibromyalgia. S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a natural substance used for fatigue and morning stiffness. Melatonin improves sleep, and D-ribose increases cellular energy synthesis in certain muscle cells.

 

Stress reduction – Because symptoms are triggered by stress, effective stress management helps. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient establish healthy patterns of behavior by replacing negative thoughts with more pleasant ones. In addition, relaxation measures are used to reduce stress and improve mood.

 

Exercise – The cornerstone of fibromyalgia treatment is exercise. An effective exercise program includes aerobic exercise, strengthening, and stretching.

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