Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a fairly new disorder that is characterized by global pain of the musculoskeletal system that is present for at least three months. Fibromyalgia consists of pain in both sides of the body, both above and below the waist. Additionally, people with fibromyalgia must have pain in one of the following locations to meet diagnostic criteria: cervical spine, chest, thoracic spine, or low back. Finally, a minimum of 11 of 18 determined spots on the body must be tender to the touch. Fibromyalgia is almost always accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress but do not have to. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men.

 

Fibromyalgia was originally perceived to be a mental disorder due to its non-characteristic, non-specific symptomatology. It was first described by doctors in the early 1800s. At the time, fibromyalgia was written in the literature under the name “muscular rheumatism.” The symptoms were several painful locations, stiffness, aches, tiredness, and insomnia.

A Scottish physician first described the 18 tender points of fibromyalgia in the early 1820s.

At the turn of the 20th century, the diagnosis “fibrositis” came into existence which simply means inflammation of connective tissues. Finally in 1976 the name of the condition was changed to “fibromyalgia” as we refer to it today.

 

Treatment of fibromyalgia is a multimodal approach. Often the disease is very refractory to treatment so for optimal management, it should be treated using several different approaches.   Fibromyalgia treatment options include one or a combination of the following:

Prescription drugs are often necessary as a first line therapy. Some examples include pregabalin (Lyrica), milnacipran (Savella), and duloxetine (Cymbalta). Other treatments to supplement pharmacotherapy include massage and physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. Natural vitamin supplementation and regular blood work may also be important for symptom maintenance. Lastly, lifestyle changes including diet and stress management help bring the picture together.

 

Fibromyalgia is not well understood and therefore habitually underappreciated. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or think you may have fibromyalgia, call to schedule a consultation today to discuss your treatment options.

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