Here are a few quick facts about the condition of fibromyalgia, or fibro.
- Between 2-4 percent of the population is affected by this condition.
- Women are affected by this condition more often than men.
- Physicians typically diagnose this condition based upon all relevant signs and symptoms, not just on the tender points that are found upon examination.
- There are no tests that are specifically used in the diagnosis of this condition- but there are some x-rays and tests that may be used to rule out other health issues.
- There is no cure for this condition, but there are medications available to help decrease the symptoms in some individuals.
- In most cases, individuals with this condition feel much better with proper self- care such as getting adequate exercise and sufficient sleep.
The condition of fibro is a very common one, causing widespread pain and touch sensitivity due to tender points and trigger points.
The tenderness and pain typically will come and go and move around your body. In most cases, individuals who have the condition of fibro experience sleep problems due to their pain and therefore are almost always fatigued.
This is a chronic condition and there is no cure for the condition itself. A physician must perform a careful evaluation in order to give a diagnosis of fibro.
The condition of fibro is much more common in women than in men and typically the signs and symptoms will manifest sometime during middle adulthood.
However, though rare, it can occur both during older adulthood or the teen years. You are at a greater risk of developing the condition of fibro if you already have another rheumatic condition.
A rheumatic condition is one that is characterized by joint pain, bone pain, muscle pain, and inflammation. These conditions include: ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
What is fibro?
As mentioned, the condition of fibro is one that is characterized by many symptoms including widespread pain. However, due to the nature of fibro, it does not include joint pain. Some of the other symptoms of the condition of fibro include:
- Tenderness to pressure/touch typically affecting muscles or skin
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty with memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not getting refreshing/restorative sleep
In addition to the above, individuals with this condition may also have the following signs and symptoms:
- Severe headaches
- Irritable bladder
- Overactive bladder
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
- Pelvic pain
- Digestive problems
These signs and symptoms of the condition of fibro will most likely vary in intensity and will come and go over time. In many cases, stress can cause the symptoms to flare up.
Causes of Fibro
The truth is that the causes of the condition of fibro are not exactly clear. Since everyone is different, everyone will experience different signs and symptoms at different times.
It is possible that the condition of fibro has a genetic link, in that there are usually multiple family members that have the condition.
Some researchers say that there might be specific genes that make an individual more likely to developing this condition than other health issues that can accompany it. However, genes are not the only cause for the condition of fibro.
For the most part, there is typically a trigger that causes fibro to start. This could be a physical trauma or stress, spinal problems, or arthritis.
Some researchers say that an emotionally traumatic or stressful event could also trigger the condition of fibro.
Any trauma changes the way the body communicates with your brain and spinal cord. The chemical and protein levels in the brain may change.
Many times, individuals describe their condition of fibro as if their body’s “volume control” is too high in the areas of the brain where pain is processed.
Your physician will diagnose you with the condition of fibro based upon the signs and symptoms that have manifested within your body.
He or she may follow the requirements of a specific number of trigger or tender points- but this is not an “official” requirement for the diagnosis to be made.
A physical exam is helpful for detecting these tender points or trigger points and is done in such a way that other causes of muscle pain can be ruled out.
There are no specific diagnostic tests such as blood tests or x-rays for the condition of fibro- but these types of tests can rule out other possible conditions that seem to be similar to this condition.
Due to the fact that chronic widespread pain is the primary feature of the condition of fibro, your physician will ask you to completely describe your pain.
This could be the difference in you receiving a diagnosis of fibro or a diagnosis of another very similar condition.
There are some conditions that seem to mimic the condition of fibro including: lupus, hypothyroidism, and polymyalgia rheumatica. Blood tests and x-rays can be used to rule out these other conditions.
In some cases, the condition of fibro can go undiagnosed for many years due to the confusing symptoms that manifest. After all, some of them seem to indicate other conditions.
However, by ruling out these other conditions in addition to the presence of trigger points and tender points, an official diagnosis can be made.
One major difference is that the condition of fibro does not typically manifest with joint pain and inflammation whereas many of these other conditions do.
Criteria Needed for Fibro Diagnosis
- Widespread pain and tenderness
- Symptoms lasting for three months or more
- No other health problems that could explain the pain and other issues
If you are diagnosed with the condition of fibro, you should know that at this time, there is no cure- only treatments to help you to control the signs and symptoms.
The best thing you can do is make sure that you take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, getting adequate exercise, and getting sufficient (but not too much) rest/sleep.