What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a central nervous system hypersensitivity causing muscle spasms especially around the joints. It affects muscles and soft tissues, causing significant pain all over the body. Generally, people who has Fibromyalgia will have symptoms such as generalised body pain, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Fibromyalgia has joint pain but is not a form of arthritis. This pain and fatigue can interfere with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities.
How serious is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia can be mild or disabling, and the emotional repercussions can be substantial. There are estimates that 30% to 40% of patients have had to stop work or change jobs. About half of the patients have difficulty with or are unable to perform routine daily activities. There is some indication that such patients are at higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoporosis. Therefore, it is recommended for such patients to
seek professional advise from specialists such as body pain doctors.
The pain, emotional repercussions or sleep disturbances may lead to self-medication and overuse of sleeping pills, alcohol, drugs or caffeine. Desperation may encourage a belief in false cures and potentially dangerous use of herbal or so-called natural remedies.
Although the disease is chronic, it is neither progressive nor fatal, and remission can occur in many patients who participate in disease management programs. Children with fibromyalgia tend to have a better outlook than adults. In adult patients who were studied for four and a half years, those who had adequate exercise had the most promising outcome; those with a significant life crisis or who were on disability had a poorer outcome than others. The outcome was determined by improvements in the patients’ capacity to work, their own feelings about their condition, pain sensation, disturbed sleep, fatigue and depression.
What causes Fibromyalgia?
Body pain doctors recommend a multi-faceted approach to treating fibromyalgia that involves exercise to reduce pain and strengthen muscles, regular sleep routines, drug therapies to improve sleep and other symptoms, and psychological tools for coping with the emotional disorders caused by the disease and for reducing stress that can exacerbate pain.
One study compared three treatment options (biofeedback and relaxation techniques; exercise; and a combination of the other two) with a passive educational approach used as a control. After two years, the combination approach proved to be most beneficial, and the passive control approach was the least.
Another study also found that interdisciplinary treatment programs were effective in significantly improving pain in 42% of patients. Improvements in pain and other symptoms, including depression and sense of physical capability, persisted for at least six months, although patients tended to become fatigued again.
The effectiveness of the treatments tend to depend on how depressed the patients were, the sense of their own disability, personal support networks, and if the cause was unknown.
The severity of the pain at the start of treatment had little to do with the outcome. Patients must realize that such therapies are prolonged – in some cases, lifelong – and they should not be discouraged by relapses. Enlisting family, partners and close friends, particularly with exercise and stretching programs, and becoming involved with support groups of fellow patients are very helpful.
Patients must have realistic expectations about the long-term outlook and their own individual capabilities. Improvement is subjective, and some patients are pleased with just a 10% reduction in pain and other symptoms. It is important to understand that the condition can be managed and patients can live a full life.
It involves a multi-dimensional approach to treat fibromyalgia, and this includes use of medications (excluding painkillers), exercise sleep improvement, and maybe cognition behavioural rehabilitation programmes.
Tips to ease fibro
Exercise consistently 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.
Choose cardio exercises that will increase the basal heart rate by 1.5 times. Example: