Once thought to be a largely imagined disease, since 1990 fibromyalgia has been recognized as a medical disorder. Symptoms can include sensitivity to pain, stiff, achy joints or bone pain, and fatigue. Other common markers of the syndrome are sleep disorders, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Also seen with fibromyalgia are such disparate symptoms as dry eyes or mouth, heart palpitations, such cognitive issues as forgetfulness and lack of concentration (dubbed “fibro fog”), numbness and tingling, various allergies, and even weight gain.
Depression can also be a factor, but it is a result of the disorder, rather than a cause. Anxiety may also be present. But the overriding symptom is pain: pelvic pain, chest wall pain, muscle pain, and tender points on the back, chest, arms, and legs, among other pervasive muscle pain throughout the body.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is the most common cause of chronic, widespread body pain in this country, affecting approximately 4% of the population. There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but the good news is, it doesn’t worsen over time, although it is usually a lifetime affliction.
Your pain management specialists at The Medical Group of South Florida, in Jupiter, Florida, offer a multidisciplinary approach to treating the chronic pain and related symptoms of fibromyalgia.
There are three classes of medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are available over the counter. We will resist prescribing narcotics, which can not only lead to dependence but may actually worsen the pain over time. Anti-seizure medications can sometimes help. Tricyclic antidepressants may help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, while muscle relaxants may help with the attendant sleep issues.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has often proven useful in reducing symptoms. This is not to suggest that the condition is “all in the mind,” but study after study has shown that the mind can play a role in worsening the symptoms of this or any illness. Occupational therapy and physical therapy (available from our physical therapists here at MGSFL) can help you alleviate pain and show you how to avoid pain-causing movements. Biofeedback can also help you train your body to control some of the pain of fibromyalgia.
Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Acupuncture, acupressure, and meditation have all demonstrated some success for some people in relieving the conditions associated with fibromyalgia. One study in the Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine found that subjects who received acupuncture saw relief of their pain for over two years.
Although no particular food or food group has been definitively shown to impact fibromyalgia, healthy eating is always key to helping you feel your best. We can help design a nutrition plan that is tailored for your specific needs.
Yoga and tai chi, with their slow, gentle movements, combined with deep breathing and relaxation, have been found to benefit many people who suffer from this condition. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking and biking are useful in reducing pain and promoting healthful sleep. Water exercises are particularly well-suited to relieving the pain of fibromyalgia. Massage can not only relax you and help you sleep better, but help improve range of motion and relieve some pain.
One or more of these approaches may by right for your situation and, following a thorough evaluation, our interventional pain management physicians will be able to guide you on the best path toward relief.