Understanding Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Diagnostic Procedures and Treatment Options
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal discomfort. While this condition is very common, there is still a great deal of confusion among patients and sufferers regarding the nature of this condition, how it may be identified and the potential treatments that may offer relief. Unlike other conditions that may result in musculoskeletal discomfort, such as osteoarthritis, it is believed that sufferers experience discomfort and fatigue because this condition causes the pain signals being processed by the brain to become amplified. Possessing a better understanding of this conditions and how it is diagnosed can help sufferers to seek out the treatment options and resources that can provide greater relief.
The most common issues caused by this condition involve chronic muscles aches, discomfort and fatigue which can often be acute or severe in nature. Other symptoms may include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Frequent headaches
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Difficulty concentrating
- Bowel issues
- Stiffness, tingling or loss of sensation
Not every symptom may manifest, and the presentation of this condition can differ drastically from one patient to the next. The symptoms of fibromyalgia can also be easily confused with those caused by other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, bursitis and tendinitis.
In order to accurately diagnose this condition, physicians must first obtain a patients medical history and perform a thorough physical examination. One diagnostic method which is widely used is to palpate multiple areas of the body, known as ‘trigger points.’ The human body contains 18 of these trigger points, and those who are suffering from fibromyalgia typically experience discomfort when they are pressed. A positive test typically entails a positive pain response at 11 or more of these sites during an examination.
There is a specific blood test which may be performed in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis. This test, known as an FM/a, identifies a specific marker which is produced by the body’s immune system. While this test may provide useful insight into the nature of a medical issue and its underlying condition, it is often a very expensive procedure and is not always performed for every patient.
While there is no cure for this condition, there are a variety of treatment options that may allow sufferers to enjoy greater comfort and relief. Treatment often consists of:
- Self-care, such as diet and excessive
- Medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, pain management medications and antidepressants or sleep medications
- Cognitive therapy, support groups and other resources designed to provide emotional support
Treatment strategies can differ considerably, and not every plan of care may prove to be effective for treating every patient. Ongoing care is often needed in order to ensure that sufferers are able to enjoy the best results and strategies and efforts to manage the discomfort caused by this condition are often required to change and evolve over time in order to adapt to the needs of each patient.