As far as awareness is concerned, if you were to ask someone if they knew what fibromyalgia was, they would probably say they have heard of it, but after that, most people will get a blank look on their face. There is nothing wrong with that, especially considering the wide breadth of diseases, disorders and syndrome that exist.
Assuming we are dealing with a blank slate here, allow us to start from the beginning. First of all, we need to understand that fibromyalgia is not a disease; rather it is a syndrome, which is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur. These symptoms are widespread and unexplained pain in the muscles and joints, however, it isn’t a type of arthritis as many people might think due to the symptoms.
As we mentioned earlier, fibromyalgia is distinguished by widespread and unexplained pain, and this pain is usually centralized to different points across the body known as ‘trigger points.’ These tender areas can be painful to the touch, with even lite pressure causing discomfort.
Fibromyalgia can be very difficult to diagnose as the idea of pain can be very subjective to most people. That being said, doctors have distinguished 18 points (or 9 pairs) that if painful to the touch can be used as a diagnosis for fibromyalgia.
Common trigger points include:
- back of the neck
- front of the neck
- lower back
- upper back
While these are more centralized areas of pain, it should also be noted that many sufferers of fibromyalgia report a dull ache throughout their entire body.
Although fibromyalgia is heavily regarded as a ‘painful syndrome,’ it can also manifest itself with other non-pain related symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- trouble sleeping
- loss of appetite
- depression and anxiety
Sadly, doctors and scientists have yet to determine what the root cause of fibromyalgia is, but they are confident that it involves a variety of factors working together. For example, genetics seem to play a role in this syndrome, with people with a preexisting family history of it are more likely to develop it. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also been linked to it, as well as rheumatic diseases such as arthritis or lupus can both lead to the development of fibromyalgia.
At the present, we have no cure for fibromyalgia, as science is still trying to explain the underlying causes behind it. However, there is treatment available to sufferers, both in the form of medicine and no-drug treatments. While they won’t cure the syndrome, these treatments will help to medicate the pain and discomfort, helping you live as fully as possible with fibromyalgia.
If you, or someone you know is suffering from this perplexing ailment, we encourage you to go see your doctor and discuss treatment options, for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia isn’t the ending of one life, but the starting of a new.