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What is Fibromyalgia?

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and in this blog; we’re focusing our attention on fibromyalgia, the most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis.

Right now, more than 3.7 million Americans are battling the pain of fibromyalgia, and the majority of these people are between 40 – 75 years old.

Fibromyalgia is categorized as a rheumatic condition that causes soft tissue and joint pain as well as a general malaise. It’s the most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis.

There are a variety of factors that can lead to fibromyalgia, which can include:

  • A stressful or traumatic physical or emotional event (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Stress, which can cause a disturbance in hormones, thereby contributing to fibromyalgia
  • Another family member with fibromyalgia

It’s interesting to point out that fibromyalgia doesn’t typically cause joint damage or inflammation. But, it can cause unbearable pain and fatigue and inhibit a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks.

Below are some of the symptoms commonly associated with fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread muscle and joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Morning stiffness
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Altered sleep

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a doctor can prescribe certain medications to contain them. However, lifestyle changes can also help control the symptoms as well.

Medications:

  • Antidepressants have been known to help ease the fatigue and pain that’s associated with fibromyalgia.
  • Anti-seizure medications can help reduce pain symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol and ibuprofen may be helpful in managing pain.

Lifestyle changes:

  • Exercise – While at first it might cause them to worsen, gradual and regular exercise can ultimately help alleviate symptoms. Swimming, walking and water aerobics are all viable options. Speak with your primary care physician prior to beginning a new fitness regimen.
  • Sleep – Consistently getting adequate amounts of sleep can help keep fatigue in check. Practice getting to bed and waking up at the same time every day to develop a habit of getting sufficient amounts of rest.
  • Stress management – Stress causes fibromyalgia to flare, so developing a stress management plan that incorporates techniques such as deep breathing exercises, talk therapy, or meditation can help keep symptoms at bay.

If you believe that you or your loved one is suffering from fibromyalgia, schedule a doctor’s appointment for a proper diagnosis.

Sources:

https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/fibromyalgia

http://www.healthline.com/health/fibromyalgia

http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/fibromyalgia/what-is-fibromyalgia.php

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354785

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St. Barnabas Health System,
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St. Barnabas Health System
5850 Meridian Road
Gibsonia, PA 15044

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