Fibromyalgia is a common condition that affects the bones and muscles. There is no cure for fibromyalgia but it can be managed with medication, exercise, and other healthy habits. If you think you might have fibromyalgia or you received a diagnosis, our doctors at St. Paul Rheumatology can help you make sense of the condition.
Fibromyalgia causes widespread musculoskeletal pain as well as fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. Current research suggests fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and non painful signals.
You may start seeing fibromyalgia symptoms after physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. Symptoms may also come on gradually over time with no triggering event.
Women are more likely to develop the condition than men. Many people who have fibromyalgia may also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression.
To meet the criteria for a fibromyalgia diagnosis, you must have pain in at least four of these five areas:
- Left upper region (including shoulder, arm, or jaw)
- Right upper region (including shoulder, arm, or jaw)
- Left lower region (including hip, buttock, or leg)
- Right lower region (including hip, buttock, or leg)
- Axial region (including neck, back, chest, or abdomen)
Your doctor may order blood tests to rule out other conditions before diagnosing you with fibromyalgia.
Treatments for fibromyalgia include medication and self-care. One treatment will not work for all symptoms. Trying a variety of treatment strategies can greatly improve your quality of life.
You may try over-the-counter pain relievers to manage your pain. Opioid medications are not recommended for fibromyalgia because they can lead to side effects and dependence.
Antidepressants may also help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Anti-seizure drugs commonly used to treat epilepsy are often useful to reduce pain, as well.
You may try therapy to help reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms. Physical therapists can teach you exercises that will improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina. Occupational therapists can help you make adjustments to your work area or the way you do certain tasks. This can help reduce stress on your body.
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If you have more questions about fibromyalgia, our doctors at St. Paul Rheumatology can answer them for you. Click here to schedule an appointment.