FAQ’s on Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia affects nearly 5-10% of the population and has some distinctive characteristics and symptoms, such as tightness and tenderness, accompanied with pain in the muscles. The condition primarily affects women between the ages of 35 and 55 (Bellamy, et al., J Rheumatol, 1997).
Fibromyalgia is considered to be a pain condition that shows widespread symptoms resulting from a chronic connective tissue disorder. The condition presents multiple tender spots on the body that are primarily found on back, neck, chest, hips, arms and legs.
Fibromyalgia was previously referred to as a chronic pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism, and fibrositis (Mease 2005).
What is the Cause of Fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown, yet ongoing research continues. Studies have shown that the pain associated with the condition is somehow related to the central nervous system or the brain; however, ongoing research has yet to confirm.
The pain is real with fibromyalgia and patients experience it in response to certain stimuli that is normally not expected to be painful in nature. Patients show elevated nerve chemical signals and increased nerve growth factor in the spinal fluid, which contributes to oversensitivity to certain stimuli.
What are the Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
The most common symptoms related to fibromyalgia include:
- Pain and tenderness in the muscles and joints
- Interrupted sleep or sleep that does not provide refreshment
- Irritable bowels
- Central sensitization – increased sensitivity to stimuli
- Anxiety or Depression
- Weakness and Fatigue
Pain is generally experienced throughout the body, particularly in areas such as the back, upper neck, hips, knees, elbows and other areas of the body. Pain is usually exacerbated when pressure is applied to these tender areas.
The condition is associated with a variety of other conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain, depression, anxiety, and other bowel issues such as
chronic diarrhea or chronic constipation.
The pain may show up for weeks or months at a time with little to no relief, and present stiffness of the affected joint.
Many patients with fibromyalgia experience headaches and related facial pain. The pain may be associated with the tenderness and pain felt in the neck and upper back, in between the shoulder blades. The pain associated with this condition is much like that of a migraine headache, as it is predisposed to increased sensitivity to light, noise, odor, or touch.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
The American College of Rheumatology has developed guidelines for making the diagnosis. A diagnosis is made clinically by the Los Angeles pain doctor based upon a history of multiple regions of aches or pain for at least three months and have at a minimum of eleven of eighteen significantly tender locations on the body.
If one has a history that is similar to Fibromyalgia, but the eleven criteria are not reached for the diagnosis, then it is termed “Myofascial Pain Syndrome” and the same treatments are offered.
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
The symptoms and intensity of the symptoms vary from one fibromyalgia case to another and within the same person from time to time. While the symptoms may never completely disappear on their own, they may subside at times. The symptoms are not life threatening but can disrupt daily life significantly. Treatment for fibromyalgia can improve the symptoms associated with the condition.
Both the body and mind are affected by fibromyalgia and both need to be addressed during treatment. Pharmacological treatment is one option and the outcome can be favorable if combined with other modalities.
Treatment goals are to improve a person’s physical pain, increase daily activity abilities and restore normal sleep cycles. A combination of treatment that includes medication, such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, sleep aids, acetaminophen and membrane stabilizing drugs, accompanied with physical therapy, acupuncture, massage and other stress reducing treatments offers the most promising results (Mease et al., J Rheumatol Suppl,
When fibromyalgia is severe, short term narcotic medications may be necessary. It is unclear how neurogenic stabilizing drugs work, but they can. Lyrica was recently FDA cleared for treating the problem. Anytime a new therapy shows effectiveness, it is a blessing to those suffering from such a difficult problem!
There are a variety of therapies that are becoming widely used in medicine and gaining popularity in the treatment of fibromyalgia and chronic pain. These therapies include:
- Physical therapy
- TENS Unit
- Trigger point injections
- Exercise and stretching programs
- Relaxation and meditation techniques
- IV therapy with a Myer’s Cocktail
Heat application can be used in combination with any of the above therapies to provide relief from pain. The heat therapy has been shown to relieve symptoms of muscle strain that has been experienced by fibromyalgia patients (Tennant, 2010).
Combining heat, another form of therapy and medication has shown promising results in the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms. Patients who experience fibromyalgia-associated symptoms should seek treatment that is available to them through a Los Angeles pain management center.
Ongoing Treatment Research for Fibromyalgia
Research into the most favorable treatments for fibromyalgia patients is ongoing. New treatments using Botox injections are currently being examined further. Studies revealed that areas of the body that did not receive injections were more tender and painful than areas that did receive injections.
Participating patients reported that their symptoms were better when receiving Botox injections and that the pain decreased. This research is ongoing and further clinical trials are being collected to validate claims that this method of treatment is effective in providing relief for symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.
Other studies are examining the use of lidocaine infusions for pain relief, but no significant data has been collected at this time. Research continues on the best possible treatment plans available for symptoms related to fibromyalgia.
If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain and suspected fibromyalgia, let the California Pain Network help you. The Network connects those in pain with pain management Los Angeles and surrounding areas trust. Simply fill out the form on the page or call (310) 626-1526 for assistance today!