What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic pain condition (not a type of arthritis) that affects 4% of people in the United States. The pain syndrome commonly affects the muscles and ligaments and usually has been present for years when a health care professional diagnoses the condition. Fibromyalgia was formerly known as fibrositis.
Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, but some think it’s a problem with how your brain and spinal cord process pain signals from your nerves.
We do know certain things suggest you’re more likely to get it:
- Another painful disease, such as arthritis, or an infection.
- Mood disorder, like anxiety or depression.
- Physically or emotionally abused or have PTSD.
- Rare exercise
- Family history.
Common symptoms include:
- Muscle pain, burning, twitching, or tightness
- Low pain threshold or tender points
- Draining fatigue
- Trouble concentrating and remembering, called “fibro fog”
- Insomnia or not sleeping well
- Feeling nervous, worried, or depressed
- History of the patient, past medical issues, family history
- Physical examination.
- Thyroid test, test for arthritis, and lupus.
- Blood tests to check hormone levels and signs of inflammation
What is the treatment for fibromyalgia?
There are both medication and non-medication treatments for fibromyalgia. Medication treatments frequently help manage the pain.
- . However, the non-medication treatments are really the basis of treatment for fibromyalgia.
- The non-medication treatments for fibromyalgia include :–Education, exercise, and stress
– Sleep disorders may require both Educations about fibromyalgia is very important. Often patients have suffered with symptoms for years, and simply knowing why they have pain can be a relief.
- Aerobic exercise.
- Low-impact aerobic activities such as swimming, water aerobics,
- walking, and biking are activities that patients with fibromyalgia find helpful. Many patients find it helpful to exercise .
- Medications in the antidepressant class that affect the serotonin and the norepinephrine neurotransmitters (SNRI antidepressants) are frequently used in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
- These medications include duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and venlafaxine (Effexor). Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter in the brain, and increasing the levels of norepinephrine with these medications decreases pain levels.
- Fluoxetine (Prozac) is an antidepressant that affects mainly serotonin at low doses but increases norepinephrine as well at higher doses. Higher doses of fluoxetine can be used to treat fibromyalgia pain.
- Pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin) are anticonvulsants (medications initially developed to treat seizures).
- There are many scientific studies showing that pregabalin and gabapentin can be effective for fibromyalgia pain.
- Tramadol (Ultram) is an opioid pain reliever, which is helpful in some patients with fibromyalgia but should be used with caution as sometimes the use of opioids can worsen the pain cycle in fibromyalgia.
- Low-dose naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol) in fibromyalgia.