What is fibromyalgia?

Escrito por: Top Doctors®
Editado por: Top Doctors®

Fibromyalgia is a type of nerve pain (neuropathic pain) which can cause all over chronic body pain, fatigue, and affect the patient’s wellbeing. In the past this condition was not well-understood, and was difficult to treat. However, nowadays a great amount more is known surrounding fibromyalgia, and it can be diagnosed and treated successfully. 

Celebrity singer Lady Gaga famously suffers from the condition and works to raise awareness of the affect it has on people's lives

What causes fibromyalgia?

The specific cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown, but the field of pain medicine now is aware that it is a result of a dysfunction in the nervous system. This leads to specific symptoms and signs which patients will begin to display.

When diagnosing a patient, the specialist must look at their history to see if there may be a specific cause of their fibromyalgia, such as a road traffic accident or psychological trauma. This is essential when treating the condition.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

The key signifier of fibromyalgia is pain, usually all over the body. It is widespread and felt all over the musculoskeletal system, sometimes missing a few areas, but generally encompassing the whole body.

Together with the pain, the patient often experiences fatigue - they will have low levels of energy and feel extremely tired most of the time. However, although the patient may be experiencing fatigue, at the same time they experience problems with sleeping. Sleep disturbance is a common trait of fibromyalgia.

Another symptom that patients report is that of something called cognitive disturbance. This means that the patient may have difficulty with their short-term memory, and feel disturbances in their thought processes. All these symptoms are connected to the nervous system – as fibromyalgia is a neuropathic pain.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

A thorough assessment of the patient is made, along with questionnaires intending to gather as much information about the patient, their pain, and their history as possible. Treatments the patient has had previously will also be investigated, along with using a specific diagnostic test to determine whether the suspected fibromyalgia is indeed the condition the patient is suffering from.

What is the treatment for fibromyalgia?

The treatment for fibromyalgia strongly relates to each individual case, as the causes vary from patient to patient. A pain specialist can recommend a course of treatment tailored to the patient, and use multidisciplinary approaches in order to help patients get on with their lives as normal. Specialist physical therapy and rehabilitation can be provided, along with a psychological approach that seeks to improve the patient’s state of mind.

For treating the pain itself, there are various methods which include injections with specific medication to trigger points in the body, pulsed radiofrequency treatment to trigger points, and the patient can take medication to help with the pain they experience in daily life.

If an accurate diagnosis is given, fibromyalgia can be managed, along with specialist help, treatment, therapy, and lifestyle advice – and patients can cope with the condition, leaving them to lead more of a normal life. 


Por Topdoctors

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