Fibromyalgia is a debilitating disorder characterized by widespread pain in muscles, bones and cartilage, often coupled with fatigue, as well as sleep, mood, and memory issues. Research suggests that because fibromyalgia alters your brain’s ability to process pain signals the severity of your pain increases.
What are the common symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Symptoms of fibromyalgia often start after you’ve suffered some sort of physical trauma, undergone surgery, are fighting off an infection or are dealing with intense psychological stress. Other times, its symptoms gradually build over time, with no apparent triggering circumstances.
Fibromyalgia Pain Clinics Orange CountyFibromyalgia is most commonly recognized by dull, constant muscle aches that are widespread. The term “widespread” means your symptoms occur below and above your waist, and on both sides of your body as well. When pressure is applied, fibromyalgia produces additional pain at specific tender locations, including your inner knees, upper hips, the side of your hips, upper chest, outer elbows, the front sides of your neck, between your shoulder blades, the top of your shoulders, and the back of your head.
Fibromyalgia patients often are tired when they awaken. Despite sleeping for long periods of time, their sleep is often disturbed by pain. Many patients struggle with sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, all of which can further intensify their fibromyalgia symptoms.
What is the cause of fibromyalgia?
We don’t know precisely what causes fibromyalgia, but pain doctors in Orange County generally agree that a variety of factors combine to produce its symptoms. These include: a genetic inheritance which produces a predisposition to fibromyalgia; emotional or physical trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder; and infections which aggravate or trigger the disorder. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia patients have a lower pain threshold due to their brain’s exaggerated sensitivity to pain signals.
What is the cause of fibromyalgia?
We don’t know precisely what causes fibromyalgia, but pain doctors in Orange County generally agree that a variety of factors combine to produce its symptoms. These include: a genetic inheritance which produces a predisposition to fibromyalgia; emotional or physical trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder; and infections which aggravate or trigger the disorder.
Researchers believe that fibromyalgia patients have a lower pain threshold due to their brain’s exaggerated sensitivity to pain signals.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There are two accepted criteria, established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, to diagnose fibromyalgia correctly. These are: a minimum of 11 out of 18 total tender spots which react painfully when stimulated; and pain that lasts for at least three months and is widespread (below and above your waist, as well as on both sides of your body). However, because the symptoms of fibromyalgia can come and go, and it’s difficult to standardize the amount of pressure applied to these targeted tender spots, it can be difficult to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis.
To help confirm your fibromyalgia diagnosis, your doctor will strive to eliminate as possible causes other conditions with similar symptoms. Useful blood tests may include thyroid function tests, a complete blood count, and an assessment of the rate at which your blood produces red blood-cell sediments.
How is fibromyalgia treated?
To date, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia. Fortunately, several medications reliably help control its symptoms. Also, relaxation, exercise and stress- reduction techniques often prove to be helpful.
our Orange County pain management doctor may recommend medications to help improve your sleep and alleviate the pain. Analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, among others), may ease stiffness and pain, but their relative effectiveness may vary. Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) may be recommended by your OC pain doctor along with other medications. Antidepressants are known to help alleviate fatigue and pain in some cases, and anti-seizure drugs may reduce certain types of pain.
A positive attitude can play a big part in overcoming your fibromyalgia symptoms. Your doctor may recommend counseling to help reinforce your belief that your treatment will succeed; furthermore, effective counseling can help you develop strategies to reduce stress.
Your pain doctor in Orange County can help you understand ways to manage your fibromyalgia on your own. Because stress can aggravate your symptoms, it’s important to find ways to limit emotional pressure and avoid overexertion.
Get plenty of sleep because fatigue is one of the fibromyalgia’s leading symptoms. Good sleep habits like getting up and going to bed at the same time each day and keeping naptime to a minimum go a long way toward overcoming fatigue. Regular exercise may at first increase your pain, but as you gradually building up your strength, it can be very beneficial. Swimming, walking, water aerobics and biking are excellent antidotes to fibromyalgia pain.
Your pain management clinic in Orange County can recommend a reliable physical therapist who can work with you to design a home exercise plan. Remember: whatever activities play a part in your day, don’t overdo it. Be sensible about taking it easy on days when your symptoms flare up. Make healthy lifestyle choices: plan your diet around healthy foods and put limits on your coffee drinking. Steps like these, which you and you alone control, will increase your chances of managing your fibromyalgia symptoms successfully.