We’ve all heard of fibromyalgia, but what exactly is it? Dr. Mezhebovsky, Director of Psychiatry at Boston Clinical Trials, recommends the following information from MayoClinic:
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety or depression.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and other stress-reduction measures also may help.
Okay, so Fibromyalgia has to do with pain. What are some other symptoms?
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
- Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties. A symptom, commonly referred to as “fibro fog,” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
How do I know if I have a predisposition for fibromyalgia? What are the risk factors?
Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
- Your sex. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men.
- Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.
- Other disorders. If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
I have some of these symptoms, what is the diagnosis process like?
Fibromyalgia can’t be easily confirmed or ruled out through a simple laboratory test. Your doctor can’t detect it in your blood or see it on an X-ray. Instead, fibromyalgia appears to be linked to changes in how the brain and spinal cord process pain signals.
Because there is no test for fibromyalgia, your doctor must rely solely on your symptoms to make a diagnosis.
In the American College of Rheumatology guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia, one of the criteria is widespread pain throughout your body for at least three months. “Widespread” is defined as pain on both sides of your body, as well as above and below your waist.
What other tests can I expect my doctor to try?
While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include:
- Complete blood count
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Thyroid function tests
- Vitamin D levels
Your doctor may also perform a careful physical exam of your muscles and joints, as well as a neurological exam to look for other causes of your symptoms. If there’s a chance that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a sleep study.
If you are looking to try a treatment for fibromyalgia, or start a new one, BCT is currently conducting a clinical trial for fibromyalgia patients. Visit our page for more information at www.bostontrials.com/studies/fibromyalgia
Information for this blog was obtained from the following article: