Understanding Fibromyalgia

The last decade has seen the proliferation of a disease called FIBROMYALGIA or POLYMYALGIA-RHEUMATICA.

It is characterised by diffuse and variable pain symptoms felt in the muscles and joints of primarily the upper aspects of the arms and legs. It is reported to affect significantly more women than men and has associated and marked fatigue type symptoms. It is seemingly able to manifest for many months if not years, without a definite end point. There are a considerable number of experts who consider fibromyalgia to have a major psychological cause. Such phenomena are termed psychogenic or psychosomatic.

The disease is characterised by a process of exacerbation and remission, where sufferers have periods of increased symptoms followed by periods of reduced suffering. Exacerbations are commonly associated with stressful situations as well as low temperature exposure and physical exertion.

A provisional diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often given if widespread undiagnosed pain is experienced in all four limbs for a continual period of three months or more. Further confirmation is with tender point analysis where patients feel specific and abnormal tenderness on certain points located around the body. These are located at the knees, elbows and neck and shoulders.

Sufferers often report abnormal sleep patterns too.

Fibromyalgia is also associated symptomatically with a number of other illnesses or diseases such as:

metal poisoning

post war syndromes

chronic fatigue syndrome

hypothyroidism

depression

influenza

There is no known cure for fibromayalgia. Analgesia and low dose antidepressant medication is commonly used to treat symptoms. Alternative therapies and physiotherapy and massage have also been cited as helpful. Results and outcomes are not proven though and symptomatic and temporary relief seem to be the commonest outcome of treatments.

However, it is commonly accepted that exercising to a level of fatigue has negative rather than positive results with sufferers. If the symptoms are in remission the exercfise tolerance levels of sufferers can be improved albeit slowly.

Among the causes of fibromyalgia the following are believed to be possibilities:

Stress

Genetics

Endocrine deficiencies

As you can probably tell there is an awful lot that of variation and debate on the subject. This is even to the point of doubt as to whether fibromyalgia is actually a definable and diagnosable disease or just a convenient label for a reported combination of a number of widespread signs and symptoms.

There is portion of the medical fraternity who believe fibromyalgia to be a label for a group of psychosomatic symptoms rather than a specific and diagnosable illness in its own right.

Undoubtedly fibromyalgia has become a relatively recent and additional drain on medical resources, certainly in the developed world. You may think it is phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty first century lifestyles we lead. It is certainly on the increase in terms of the number of peope being given the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.