What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating condition in which the patient experiences widespread pain and a heightened reaction to pain or pressure throughout the body. In addition to widespread pain, fibromyalgia can affect all systems in the body, leading to sleep disturbances and changes in mood. These bodily responses stem from miscommunication and malfunctioning in the central nervous system, which is why the condition is sometimes referred to as “central sensitization syndrome.” Fibromyalgia is relatively common, being found in about 8% of the world’s population. It is found more often in women than in men and can be diagnosed at any age.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but the condition is often linked to environmental factors, psychological stress, physical or mental trauma, and certain infections. For many patients fibromyalgia appears to be genetic, with other members of their family also having the condition.
There is only one type of fibromyalgia.
- Widespread pain throughout the body
- Increased sensitivity to pain or discomfort
- Sleep disturbances/Insomnia
- Cognitive difficulties
- Memory loss
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Low blood pressure
- Restless legs
- Numbness or tingling throughout the body
- Sensitivity to noise
There is no definitive test for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Your primary care physician may make the diagnosis based on your medical history and reported symptoms. They may order diagnostic tests and imaging to rule out other conditions that can produce similar symptoms.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but symptoms can be managed with prescription pain medications such as opioids. Studies have also shown that anti-seizure medications such as Gabapentin can effectively reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Some patients find relief with physical therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Physical therapy helps their bodies to relax while behavioral therapy helps them to develop calming coping mechanisms to alleviate their symptoms.