Fibromyalgia is a condition in which people describe symptoms that include widespread pain and tenderness in the body, often accompanied with fatigue, cognitive disturbance and emotional distress.
It affects two to five per cent of the population, mainly women, although men and adolescents can also develop the condition and it tends to develop during middle adulthood.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary with each individual both with intensity and frequency.
The most common symptoms are:
- Increased sensitivity to pain due to decreased pain threshold
- Increased responsiveness to sensory stimuli such as heat, cold, light and numbness or tingling
- Problems with cognition (impacting on memory and concentration)
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- Problems with sleep
Fibromyalgia can be very difficult to diagnose. As it a lot is still unknown about the condition and it does not cause any inflammation or damage that can be seen on a scan. There are no blood tests, x-rays or scans that can test for fibromyalgia, but these tests may be used to exclude other conditions.
Signs that suggest a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are:
- Widespread pain for three months or longer
- Abnormal tenderness at particular points around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee and elbow.
- Disturbed sleep patterns
It is important to remember that each person with fibromyalgia will have their own, unique set of symptoms.
Some people with fibromyalgia have other symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable or overactive bladder, headaches, and swelling and numbness or tingling in the arms and legs. Living with ongoing pain and fatigue often leads to secondary problems such as anxiety and depression.
The causes of fibromyalgia are not known. It is common in people with:
- Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- An illness such as a virus (or recent illness or infection)
- Pain from an injury or trauma
- Emotional stress and depression
- Family history
- Previous pain syndromes
- Mood disorders
- Substance abuse
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but treatment can help some symptoms.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can be triggered or be exacerbated by various factors, including:
- Weather changes
- Hard physical labour
- Mental stress
- Other musculoskeletal disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Myotherapy can assist in alleviating symptoms of Fibromyalgia by decreasing painful symptoms and encouraging relaxation and elevating mood. Numerous techniques such as trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and relaxation techniques help to elicit a relaxation response within the central nervous system. Studies have shown that massage techniques as performed by Myotherapists increase serotonin levels, decrease circulating stress hormone, decrease tender point pain, improve sleep patterns, and improve overall sense of well-being.
By Megghan Ryan – Elite MyotherapistPicture