Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness, occurring more often in women, that manifests with musculoskeletal aches and pains, exhaustion, sleep problems, emotional issues and memory problems. Since these symptoms mimic those of other illnesses, it can be difficult to diagnose. Although there’s no cure for the condition, proper treatment can help minimize the discomfort associated with it.
Although doctors used to test 18 specific “pain points” on the body to make a fibromyalgia diagnosis, newer guidelines indicate the illness if a person has widespread pain for at least three months with no medical explanation. Doctors use blood tests to rule out medical causes for the pain, including complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and thyroid functionality.
Fibromyalgia is more common among those who have certain other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, restless legs syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and endometriosis. While doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes the condition, it appears that the nervous system amplifies the body’s natural reaction to pain.
Treatment for fibromyalgia focuses on managing pain and other symptoms as well as promoting overall wellness. Common medications used include antidepressants like Cymbalta, nortriptyline and Savella as well as anticonvulsants like Lyrica and Neurontin. It can also be useful to manage the mood-related symptoms of this condition. Many people also find their symptoms resolve if they take steps to reduce stress, make sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet and limit caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Other treatments that may be used in cases of fibromyalgia include muscle relaxers like baclofen and Zanaflex, tramadol and opioids as well as certain types of interventional procedures. An example of an interventional procedure is trigger point injections.
Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 5 million Americans, between 80 and 95 percent of whom are women. Often times, treatment for this condition is most effective with a combination approach, as there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. What works for one person may not work at all for another person. It all depends on the unique situation.
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If you’re experiencing chronic pain with no known cause, consult with the professionals at The NeuroMedical Institute. Our medical expert can review your symptoms, suggest a diagnosis and recommend an effective treatment plan that is customized for you. In many cases, a combination of medications and self-care strategies can significantly reduce fibromyalgia’s effects on your everyday life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our office in Panama City.