What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.
Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. The syndrome is often seen in families, among siblings or mothers and their children.
How Common is Fibromyalgia?
- Fibromyalgia is most common in women ages 30 and over.
- Diagnosis is usually made between the ages of 20 to 50 years
- Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, 80-90% of all cases are attributed to women.
- Over 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia.
- One in 50 people will develop fibromyalgia in their lifetime.
- It is the second most common disorder affecting the musculoskeletal system after osteoarthritis.
- Fibromyalgia affects up to 3–6% of people worldwide
- Those with fibromyalgia often suffer from abnormalities in stage-4 deep sleep
- Fibromyalgia often co-presents with IBS, RLS, memory deficits, and migraines
- The average patient does not receive an accurate diagnosis until 5 years after onset of symptoms
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Widespread muscle pain
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Brain Fog (aka Fibro Fog)
Sensitivity to light/noise
What causes fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia likely involves a variety of factors working together. Fibromyalgia can be caused by physical trauma, surgery, infections, or physical and psychological stress. In these circumstances, it is often sudden in onset. But fibromyalgia may not have a singular cause, or even a reliable starting point. This means it is the result of an accumulation over the years.
- Genetics – Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that make you more susceptible to developing this disorder.
- Infections – Some illnesses appear to trigger or activate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma – Post traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.
- Rheumatic disease/Autoimmune – Patients with rheumatic disease or autoimmune disorder( ie rheumatoid arthritis or lupus) are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Doctors must rely on patient histories, self-reported symptoms, a physical examination and an accurate manual tender point examination.
It is estimated that it takes an average of five years for an FM patient to get an accurate diagnosis. Many doctors are still not adequately informed or educated about FM. Laboratory tests often prove negative and many FM symptoms overlap with those of other conditions, thus leading to extensive investigative costs and frustration for both the doctor and patient.
Another essential point that must be considered is that the presence of other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, does not rule out a FM diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion and must be diagnosed by its own characteristic features.
To receive a diagnosis of FM, the patient must meet the following diagnostic criteria:
- Widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months
- Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied
What are treatment options for Fibromyalgia?
Since there is no known cure for FM, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving function.
- Prescription Medications
A variety of prescription medications are often used to reduce pain levels and improve sleep. In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lyrica (pregabalin) as the first drug to treat fibromyalgia. In the years since, Cymbalta (duloxetine HCl) and Savella (milnacipran HCl) have been approved by the FDA.
- Alternative therapies
Alternative therapies such as massage, myofasical release, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal supplements and yoga, can be effective tools in managing Fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Lifestyle Modifications
Increasing rest, pacing activities, reducing stress, practicing relaxation and improving nutrition can help minimize symptoms and improve quality of life.
ModiHealth Fibromyalgia Services
The ModiHealth Fibromyalgia Services put you in contact with compassionate professionals who are familiar with caring for individuals living with fibromyalgia. We have a multi-disciplinary approach to assisting patient overcome their difficulties with fibromyalgia. We can assist your doctor in providing the support and resources you need to help get you back to a more active and productive life.
Through fitness, nutrition, understanding triggers, re-wiring negative patterns of stress management and ultimately overcoming the core issues that may contribute to the pain (whether they are genetic, due to illness/ injury, pregnancy, and life changes for example). You will learn stress reduction techniques and have access to resources that can guide you to your optimal level of activity.
We offer a number of programs that will support your management of fibromyalgia.
- Fibro-Care Survivors series(link)
- Healthy Eating Program (link)
- Stress Management Program (link)
- Weight Loss Program (link)
Virtual Consult Sessions
We offer virtual one-on-one telehealth sessions with professionals that will support you or your family member living with dementia.
- Fitness Instructors
- Personal Trainers
- Health Coaches