Fibromyalgia- Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain and joint stiffness condition affecting millions worldwide. Here, we provide valuable insights into fibromyalgia, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, along with effective physio relief strategies based on literature reviews.
What is Fibromyalgia?
A complex disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain with multiple tender locations on the body (as per diagram) and fatigue without any inflammation. Although the exact cause is unknown, various factors may contribute to its development, as revealed by recent literature reviews. Fibromyalgia syndrome is a complex syndrome involving many systems including:
- physiological abnormalties
This then ultimately leads to a disorder in the process of pain and its perception which can also be know as Allodynia.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
This syndrome manifests differently in every individual. The symptoms can present as widespread pain, muscle stiffness, cognitive difficulties (“fibro fog”), and sleep disturbances. Tender points are often a key feature during the physical examination for diagnosis. You can see the common tender points here on the diagram. It is often understood that one will not feel the pain in just one of the areas on the diagram but in multiple areas. In at least 3 of these areas.
Really interesting is the data presented by Physio-Pedia below that illustrates the prevalence of each symptom in the population of patients with Fibromyalgia. The tender points are present in 99% of the cases and visual problems in 95% of the time. Morning stiffness lasting longer than 30 minutes is prevalent 75% of the time which is still very high. A less common issue are TMJ (jaw) discomfort and depression 25% of the time.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be challenging due to the absence of specific laboratory tests. Instead, healthcare professionals rely on a combination of symptoms and tender point examination to make an accurate diagnosis, as highlighted in literature reviews.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
The underlying causes of fibromyalgia remain a subject of ongoing research, with genetics, trauma, infections, and central nervous system abnormalities being potential contributors. There are however several risk factors that can worsen symptoms or increase the risk of developing this condition. These include:
- Seasonal & environmental influences
- Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus
Managing fibromyalgia effectively requires a comprehensive approach based on evidence-based practices outlined in literature reviews. Treatment options include:
- Medication: Pain relievers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants are commonly prescribed to alleviate symptoms and improve sleep quality.
- Physiotherapy (Physio): Literature reviews indicate that physiotherapy plays a crucial role in reducing pain and enhancing physical function in fibromyalgia patients. Tailored exercise programs, hands-on techniques, and relaxation strategies are part of an effective physiotherapy plan. We will also try dry needling to improve relaxation and reduce stress. We will also introduce hydrotherapy if these other techniques are not effective in fibromyalgia treatment.
- Lifestyle Changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, proper nutrition, stress management, and adequate sleep can significantly improve fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Literature reviews reveal that CBT helps individuals cope with the emotional challenges of fibromyalgia and enhances their quality of life.
- Alternative Therapies: Dry needling, yoga, and mindfulness practices, based on literature reviews, offer potential relief for some fibromyalgia patients.
Finding Relief: Literature reviews emphasise the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to finding relief from fibromyalgia. By combining medical treatments, physiotherapy, lifestyle adjustments, and emotional support, individuals can experience improved well-being and quality of life.
Testing for Fibromyalgia
As literature reviews suggest, there is no definitive test for fibromyalgia diagnosis. Healthcare professionals may conduct blood tests, imaging, and other diagnostic procedures to rule out other conditions.
Our website provides an in-depth understanding of fibromyalgia, supported by recent literature reviews. Armed with this knowledge, individuals can take proactive steps towards managing this syndrome effectively and improving their overall well-being. If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic pain or fibromyalgia symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical advice and explore evidence-based treatment options.