Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain syndrome. It is characterized by pain and stiffness of the joints, muscles and tendons, fatigue and by places in the body that hurt when touched. These are places around the hip, shoulder, spine, knees and neck. There are no medications to cure the disease.
It is not known how fibromyalgia is caused. Usually nothing is found in the body that could explain the symptoms. It is suspected that it has to do with dealing with stress. If people don’t take enough rest, the body cannot recover. This creates an imbalance between what one can do (capacity) and what one has to deal with (payload). Which leads to changes in hormone levels and an ‘overstimulated’ nervous system. Many research is still being done into the cause of fibromyalgia. It is clear now that it’s not an inflammatory disease. It also doesn’t cause damage to muscles or joints. It is unclear whether or not fibromyalgia is hereditary.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are usually not visible from the outside. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Muscle pains in the entire body.
- Morning stiffness.
- Feeling of not having slept well.
- Irritable/spastic intestine.
- Headache like migraine.
- Concentration problems.
- Mood swings.
- Tingling sensation.
- Increased feeling cold (partly colouring purple in hands and feet).
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on the symptoms and physical examination. It is difficult to determine, because no defects are found in the body. The presence of sores (tender points) in the neck, spine, shoulders, hips and knees may indicate this condition.
The following criteria are established to identify fibromyalgia:
- Chronic pain in the upper and lower body, both in the right and left sides of the body. The pain is constant and present for at least three months.
- The pain is located in at least eleven of the eighteen tender points.
During further examination, such as blood tests and X-rays, no defects are found. However, other disorders with similar symptoms as fibromyalgia are excluded. People with fibromyalgia often have a whole quest behind them, before they know with certainty that their symptoms may be called fibromyalgia.
There is no medicine that can cure fibromyalgia. There are several forms of treatments which, whether or not in combination, can ensure that the patient will better be able to deal with the symptoms:
- Painkillers, such as paracetamol, are the most commonly prescribed, but at most takeout the sharp edges off the pain. Antidepressants are also often prescribed.
- Exercises (water aerobics, swimming, cycling, walking) improve physical fitness and endurance. They are also important for learning to better dose the daily efforts.
- Relaxation exercises, yoga and meditation can help to better control different stress situations.
- Living consciously, easing off in time and setting realistic demands, contribute positively to coping with fibromyalgia.
- Anyone who, for example, wants to combat fatigue and gain more energy, must also start paying attention to healthier food. Dietary supplements, such as additional vitamins, can be part of this.
The prognosis of fibromyalgia is gloomy. Fibromyalgia will often take a long time and also eventually gets worse. Learning to deal with the symptoms seems to affect the degree of pain, anxiety and depression.
- Drink a glass of lukewarm water on the empty stomach in the morning, to flush out the waste from the body. Add a little lemon juice. Also drink plenty of water throughout the day to purify the body.
- A hot bath, in which essential oils (for example rosemary or pine needles) are added, works muscle relaxant and soothing.
- The term ‘fibromyalgia’ is derived from the Latin words fibra (fiber) and mus (muscle) and the Greek word algos (pain) and therefore literally means ‘pain of muscles and fibrous (connective) tissue’.
- The prevalence of fibromyalgia is approximately 2%.
- Fibromyalgia is a controversial disease, because no physical defects can be found.
- Women are at much higher risk of having this condition than men.
- Fibromyalgia is particularly common in people aged 25 to 40 years.