Fibromyalgia is often referred to as an invisable illness because others cannot see how ill a person inflicted with Fibromyalgia (FMS) can be. The symptoms though plenty are not ones that are visable like a broken leg is. They are what is called subjective. Understanding and becoming educated about this strange illness is the one thing you could do for someone you love who has been diagnosed with FMS.
Fibromyalgia is a complex disease in which both genetics and environmental factors play a role. For a better understanding, here are some basic facts about Fibromyalgia and its symptoms:
- Fibromyalgia afflicts 8 to 12 million people in this country alone. It does not discriminate by gender or age, but predominately affects women between the ages of 35 and 54. It has been found to be genetic, affecting children and the elderly, both male and female alike.
- Fibromyalgia is a complex disease involving multi-system disturbances and abnormalities. Because of this complexity, these conditions have been poorly treated by the current 8 to 15 minute visits that address only a portion of the wide spectrum of underlying dysfunctions.
- Diagnosis is difficult. Currently there is no medical test that will clearly diagnose Fibromyalgia. Diagnosis is presently based on patient history and tender point sensitivity. “Tender Points” refer to 18 points on the body in which extreme sensitivity may occur in at least 11. Tender point sensitivity, as well as a history of widespread chronic body pain for at least 3 months, provides the most definitive diagnosis at this time. Other symptoms relating to a diagnosis are listed below.
- The underlying cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown. Research is ongoing, but there is agreement that Fibromyalgia patients have an enhanced pain sensitivity and response originating from the central nervous system. Traumatic illness or injury may trigger the disease. Additional research is continuing to determine other factors that may lead to the development of Fibromyalgia including: genetics, environment, autoimmune dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and connective tissue disease.
- Frequency, degree and location of pain vary from day to day. Any given day a Fibromyalgia patient’s level of discomfort may range from mild muscle stiffness to extreme, radiating pain so severe they feel completely debilitated and unable to carry out simple activities.
- Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms. The severity of Fibromyalgia varies from person to person and day to day, therefore, the treatment plan should be individualized. The patient must be focused, determined and dedicated to regain control and manage the symptoms.
- A well-rounded management program may include: nutritional counseling, conditioning, exercise programs and lifestyle changes. Alternative therapies such as acupressure and massage, stress management and relaxation techniques may be considered.
- Support from family and friends are critical. Understanding Fibromyalgia and having the emotional support of those closest to you can make a tremendous difference in your outcome.
Other common symptoms include: