Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the muscles and soft tissue. It is characterized by musculoskeletal pain along with fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues.
Fibromyalgia is much more likely to occur with women than men. There is no known cause of this disorder, but it is thought to be genetic. However, certain illnesses and post-traumatic stress seem to trigger it as well. Researchers tend to believe repeated nerve stimulation will cause an abnormal increase in the chemicals that signal pain in the brain.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia:
- Chronic muscle pain, spasms, or tightness
- Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy
- Insomnia or waking up feeling tired
- Stiffness, after waking up or sitting for a period
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Tension and migraine headaches
- Jaw and facial tenderness
- Sensitivity to odors, noise, bright lights, medications, and certain foods
- Anxiety or depression
- Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Irritable bladder
- Reduced tolerance for exercise
- Muscle pain after exercise
No lab test can diagnose fibromyalgia, but your doctor may require blood testing in order to rule out any other conditions with similar symptoms.
Because of the wide range of symptoms, fibromyalgia is difficult to treat. Medications used to help reduce pain may include pain relievers, anti-seizure drugs, and antidepressants. Home care is arguably more important, though. Home treatment may involve:
- reducing stress
- getting plenty of sleep
- exercising regularly
- pacing yourself (don’t “overdo” it or “underdo” it)
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle
In some cases, patients make choose a more holistic approach to relieve stress and even pain. Acupuncture, yoga, and message therapy are examples of this.