Fibromyalgia is a chronic painful condition of the joints, muscles and tendons caused by the presence of elevated levels of a particular type of nerve chemical signal called Substance P. Researchers have also found that brain chemical serotonin levels are also relatively low in people with fibromyalgia. The onset of fibromyalgia has been associated with psychological distress caused due to traumatic incidents.
Effects of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women, with certain research studies stating that around 80% of fibromyalgia patients have been found to be women in the age group of 35 to 55. It can occur independently, or can be associated with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. In the United States, approximately 4% of the population has fibromyalgia, while in Britain, only 1 % of the population have fibromyalgia.
Symptoms and Signs of Fibromyalgia
Major symptoms of fibromyalgia include pain on both sides of the body, including pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, upper back, and the chest. This pain can also by aggravated by increased noise pollution levels, changes in weather conditions, and emotional stress. Affected patients also exhibit tender points that are ultra sensitive to even a slight touch. These tender points caused by fibromyalgia are usually located around the elbows, shoulders, knees, hips and back of the head. Fatigue due to abnormal sleep patterns is another common symptom felt by fibromyalgia patients. People with this condition often lack deep and restorative levels of sleep. Due to mental and emotional disturbances, 50% of patients with fibromyalgia exhibit characteristics like memory loss, lower concentration levels, frequent mood changes, and anxiety.
Pain Management Treatment Programs for Fibromyalgia
Symptoms of fibromyalgia vary drastically from patient to patient. Hence the type of treatment employed is unique to each and every individual having fibromyalgia.
Stress Reduction Programs
Stress reduction program is an important part of the pain management program for treating fibromyalgia. Some of the stress reduction methods that are usually employed include:
1. Psychological counseling
2. Simple life style modification at home or work
3. Mind relaxation techniques like meditation, aromatherapy and listening to soothing music
4. Changes in the living environment
Family members play an important part in reducing the stress levels of the affected family member.
Some of the commonly recommended exercise programs for fibromyalgia patients include:
1. Swimming, cycling and walking
2. Stationary cross country ski machines
Exercises benefits fibromyalgia patients by promoting a deep level of sleep and helping the person to be completely refreshed for the next day.
Medication Programs for Fibromyalgia
The most effective forms of medication for fibromyalgia are usually tri-cyclic anti-depressants. Tri-cyclic antidepressants have been found to be extremely effective in enhancing deep sleep conditions, reducing fatigue, and relieving muscle pain and spasms. Doxepin and AmiTryptyline are two medications that are usually recommended.
The National Fibromyalgia Association web ite contains the results of trials conducted in November 1996 on using AmiTryptyline and Fluoxetine for treating fibromyalgia. The trial result can be found at http://fmaware.org/site/News240d8.html?page=NewsArticle&id=7997
See Also: What You Should Know About Fibromyalgia