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Fibromyalgia

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Doctor examining a girl with fibromyalgia

Learn more about Fibromyalgia and how LA Pain Specialist can help.

The word fibromyalgia describes a common chronic condition that causes fatigue and widespread muscle pain throughout the body. Although fibromyalgia is sometimes believed to be related to arthritis, it does not cause damage or inflammation to the joints or other tissues.

  • Fibromyalgia affects around 4 million U.S. adults
  • The cause is relatively unknown
  • It is also referred to as “widespread pain”

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Symptoms

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain and extreme fatigue. Some patients actually wake up exhausted. Many patients have tender points on their bodies that hurt when touched. Their muscles might feel pulled or overworked – even if they haven’t been exercising. Some patients have sore or aching joints in the hips, back, shoulders or neck, and the pain can be severe enough to make it difficult for them to sleep or exercise. Other symptoms can include the following:

  • Trouble concentrating (“fibro fog”)
  • Chronic headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stiffness
  • Incontinence
  • Abnormal sensitivity to heat and/or cold
  • Dryness in the eyes, mouth and nose
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
Woman with lower back pain because of fibromyalgia
Woman feeling chronic neck and back pain because of fibromyalgia

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia can be a difficult disease to diagnose, since its main symptoms, pain and fatigue, occur in many other conditions. A doctor familiar with fibromyalgia will look for two criteria:

  • Pain that has lasted for over three months. Furthermore, the pain must be widespread, and “widespread” is defined as affecting both sides of the body and occurring both below and above the waist.
  • The patient must have tender points that feel pain when somebody puts pressure on them. The body has 18 sites that can become tender points. In order to qualify for a fibromyalgia diagnosis, the patient must have at least 11 tender points.

Treatments

While there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are treatments that can ease the patient’s symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration has approved three medications for treating fibromyalgia. Other medications may be prescribed to treat some of the symptoms. For instance, a doctor might prescribe an anti-depressant to treat the accompanying depression or sleep disorders.

Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes to help the changes. Since trouble sleeping is a common problem, the doctor may give the patient the following advice:

  • Avoid afternoon naps.
  • Avoid liquids and spicy food before bedtime, since heartburn or waking up to go to the bathroom interfere with sleep.
  • Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol after late afternoon.
  • Don’t do anything stimulating before bedtime. Don’t work or exercise right before bed. Instead, take a warm bath or listen to soothing music to get relaxed.

Various alternative or complementary treatments can help fibromyalgia. Therapeutic massage, for example, can ease muscle pain and soothe tender points, stiff muscles and muscle spasms. Acupuncture and chiropractic can also help relieve pain. Regular exercise is also an effective therapy for fibromyalgia.

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I have a pain syndrome that makes it difficult to do daily tasks, but the specialists here are helping me explore new pain management techniques all the time.
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I have been dealing with pain ever since a car accident years ago but really didn't want to resort to surgery. Los Angeles Pain Specialist has helped me and was patient with me while finding a non-invasive option.
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I wasn't sure I would ever be able to sleep through the night again, but the doctors here have worked with me to help alleviate pain I thought I would have to live with forever.
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