What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome associated with widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and other symptoms such as sleep disturbances or headaches.
How frequent is fibromyalgia?
About 2 to 4% of the general population is affected by fibromyalgia. Women are more likely to have fibromyalgia as compared to men.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The specific cause of fibromyalgia is not yet known. It is likely that several factors such as genetic predisposition, history of trauma (both psychological and physical), and various infections or medications may play important role. However, some patients with fibromyalgia present no history of known triggers upon medical evaluation.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
It is important to be examined by an experienced doctor because diagnosis of fibromyalgia is not easy. Unfortunately, there is no specific diagnostic test for fibromyalgia, and it often is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions which may cause symptoms similar to fibromyalgia. Your physician will evaluate for the presence of widespread musculoskeletal pain as well as other symptoms (such as fatigue or sleep disturbances). You doctor is likely to check your medical history for events such as psychological or physical trauma. He/she will also likely prescribe various tests to exclude other conditions that may look like fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
widespread musculoskeletal pain
tender lymph nodes
difficulty thinking clearly
Fibromyalgia and central sensitivity syndrome
Central sensitivity syndrome plays an important role in fibromyalgia. For example, someone diagnosed with fibromyalgia is more likely to develop central sensitivity syndrome. At the same time, fibromyalgia can be worsened by central sensitivity syndrome because the degree of pain is increased. This is because when someone is diagnosed with central sensitivity syndrome, he/she is already overly-sensitized to pain. While we still don’t know what causes central sensitivity syndrome, previous conditions such as spinal cord injury or stroke may play a certain role for this condition.
Treatment of fibromyalgia
Treatment of fibromyalgia is not easy and it often requires that patients must comply with the treatment prescribed by the physician. The best approach to treat fibromyalgia is to combine pharmacological (medications) and complimentary treatments.
Examples of the medications that can be used to treat fibromyalgia are:
Examples of the non-pharmacological (complimentary) therapies that can be used to treat fibromyalgia are:
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS)
1. Talotta R, Bazzichi L, Di Franco M, Casale R, Batticciotto A, Gerardi MC, Sarzi-Puttini P. One year in review 2017: Fibromyalgia. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2017;35 Suppl 105:6-12
2. Yunus MB. Fibromyalgia and overlapping disorders: The unifying concept of central sensitivity syndromes. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2007;36:339-356
3. Marques AP, Santo AS, Berssaneti AA, Matsutani LA, Yuan SL. Prevalence of fibromyalgia: Literature review update. Rev Bras Reumatol. 2016
4. Bazzichi L, Giacomelli C, Consensi A, Atzeni F, Batticciotto A, Di Franco M, Casale R, Sarzi-Puttini P. One year in review 2016: Fibromyalgia. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2016;34:S145-149
5. Borchers AT, Gershwin ME. Fibromyalgia: A critical and comprehensive review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2015;49:100-151
6. Okifuji A, Hare BD. Management of fibromyalgia syndrome: Review of evidence. Pain Ther. 2013;2:87-104
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