Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia Overview
If you have started to present symptoms of fibromyalgia, or have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it can still feel like it’s all in your head. After all, other people can’t see your symptoms, and that can make it easy to feel like your symptoms aren’t real.
That’s why we’re here. Your fibromyalgia symptoms are real, and you may benefit from medical treatment of fibromyalgia. But before we talk about how to treat fibromyalgia, let’s establish what it is.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
In general, fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that presents with muscular and skeletal pain throughout the body. Additionally, you might experience insomnia, memory issues, lack of energy, and sudden changes in mood. “Fibro fog” is another common symptom, in which you might notice a sudden lack of mental clarity that can persist for hours in some cases.
In some cases, fibromyalgia pain may be impossible to replicate. This can be frustrating, as it can make it hard to convince people around you that you’re genuinely in pain. In other cases, however, you might notice that certain spots are sensitive and hurt when you apply pressure. Whichever is the case for you, your fibromyalgia pain is real and not in your mind.
Of course, fibromyalgia pain does not quite feel like regular pain from an injury. Let’s take a look at what makes fibromyalgia pain so unique.
What Does Fibromyalgia Pain Feel Like?
In many cases, the identifier of fibromyalgia pain is that you can feel it in your bones rather than your muscles. Additionally, it may radiate, starting in one part of your body (usually your neck or back) and spreading to other nearby areas.
Don’t be surprised if your pain changes, either. It can vary over time, appearing as severe one week and mild the next, or even appear in new places on your body. But fibromyalgia may also make you susceptible to other types of pain. For example, you may experience tension headaches, abdominal pain, tingling in the hands and feet, and hypersensitivity to extreme temperatures that may feel painful.
Now that we’ve answered the question “What is fibromyalgia?”, let’s go a little deeper and examine how people with fibromyalgia develop it.
How Does Someone Develop Fibromyalgia?
There are a few factors that can influence fibromyalgia development. While it is a common chronic disorder (it affects three to six percent of the world population, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association), there are certain factors that can influence whether or not someone develops fibromyalgia.
For example, most people with fibromyalgia are women; 75 to 90 percent, in fact. Fibromyalgia also seems to run in families, although nobody is sure exactly how that happens. Age can be another factor, and most people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia are middle-aged.
Anecdotally, people may also be at an increased risk of fibromyalgia if they have another chronic condition like chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. Even if you do not meet any of these conditions, though, you could still have fibromyalgia. These are just statistics, and that means that there are always exceptions, so do not disregard your fibromyalgia symptoms just because you are not in these demographics.
Alright, so you know what fibromyalgia is, you know the symptoms, and you have some idea of who is likely to have it. So how do you diagnose fibromyalgia?
How to Get a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
In order to receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, there is no special lab test or imaging that you need to undergo. Rather, you will need to schedule an appointment with a physician who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia and can help you better understand your pain.
At this appointment, you will discuss your medical history and describe the fibromyalgia symptoms that you experience. They will undergo a brief physical examination to see how you react to different stimulus, and if you present with fibromyalgia symptoms, you should receive a diagnosis. From there, you and your physician may explore fibromyalgia treatment options.
How to Treat Fibromyalgia
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition and thus cannot be cured right now. However, there are quality of life treatments that you can try that may lessen your pain and improve your ability to function when you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
For example, to treat physical pain and fatigue, your physician may encourage you to stay physically active and take over-the-counter pain relievers. This can improve your energy levels and lessen the amount of pain that you experience throughout the day.
Alternatively, there are certain therapeutic treatments that you can try. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to improve your mood and help you cope with fibromyalgia symptoms, physical therapy to help you retain your mobility, or occupational therapy to help you make adjustments to your work that allow you to remain productive and comfortable after you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
There are other, less conventional treatments as well. Some celebrities, like Lady Gaga, use trigger point injections to treat fibromyalgia pain. Note that treatments like this are experimental and may or may not be useful for you in treating fibromyalgia pain.
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