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Fibromyalgia -What Exactly is It and How Do I Know If I Have It?

fibromyalgia book textFibromyalgia is a condition that causes people to experience pain all over the body, often producing chronic fatigue and difficulty sleeping. What makes this condition particularly challenging is that its symptoms are not uniform and can sometimes suddenly improve or worsen.

The most common symptoms of this condition include:

  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • muscle stiffness
  • difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel

While fibromyalgia is not solely a spinal condition, it can significantly affect the spine and back due to the widespread nature of the pain. The back is vulnerable due to the presence of many muscles that are often impacted by fibromyalgia. This can lead to spine pain or soreness, which can be managed through various treatment options, including massages, low-impact aerobic conditioning, lidocaine injections to relieve pain in tender spots, and non-narcotic prescription pain medication.

How can I find out if I have fibromyalgia?

Your healthcare provider will diagnose fibromyalgia after having you take a comprehensive physical exam and going over your personal medical history. This will include getting a full accounting of the symptoms you have been experiencing and the timeline on which you have been experiencing them.

As of yet, there is no test that can diagnose fibromyalgia. Usually, this becomes a process of elimination with the diagnosis being made after comparing multiple conditions with that have symptoms related to the ones you are experiencing.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are not yet known. Current understanding is that the condition is related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain that change the way the brain, spinal cord and nerves process pain messages carried around the body. There are also indications that fibromyalgia might be genetic in nature and passed down through families. In addition, there appear to be links between physical or emotional traumas or injuries, as well as infections and stress.

Fibromyalgia typically develops between the ages of 25 and 55, but people of all ages can get it, including children and seniors. It is also known that the condition is more common among women than it is men.

How is fibromyalgia treated?

To date, no cure has been discovered to eradicate this condition, but there are treatments that often provide relief to patients. These include:

  • over-the-counter or prescription pain relief medications
  • exercise programs and/or strength training
  • relaxation techniques
  • sleep therapy.
  • stress management therapy

Overall, it has been found that exercise offers significant benefits for those who have fibromyalgia.

 It is very important to note that while there is yet to be a discovery of the cause of fibromyalgia, and there is no current cure, this condition is very real and you can find ways to relieve its symptoms. Do not hesitate to seek out the help of a medical professional. They can help make a real difference in the way you live your life going forward with this condition.

*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery