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What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic, widespread pain and tenderness in several areas of the body continuously for at least three months. It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain along with stiffness, fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive difficulties and mood changes such as anxiety or depression.
Currently, the exact etiology of fibromyalgia is not enough studied. It is thought to be a so-called neurosensory disorder. In other words, patients suffering from fibromyalgia may have a lower threshold for pain due to increased pain-sensitivity signals in the brain. Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men because it is considered that female hormones play a role in a feeling of pain. Current studies suggest that various forms of stress-related disorders cause dysregulation in the stress response system contributing to fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia causes an arising of multiple tender points on the body. These points are painful when pressure is applied and occur above and below the waist as well as along the axial spine. Also, fibromyalgia can be presented as constant aches arising within muscles. People with fibromyalgia often have some premorbid background including different chronic disorders such as depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid dysfunction. As there is no exact explanation for what actually causes the fibromyalgia, this condition is still a “diagnosis of exclusion”. In other words, it is important to rule out other disorders that could also cause these symptoms.
Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, a multi-disciplinary treatment approach including consultation with pain-specialist can achieve significant improvement and decrease pain. The general things as aerobic activity, health nutrition, sleep therapy, stress management and an overall healthy lifestyle could be enough for pain relief. Besides, psychological and behavioral therapies may be also helpful.
Concerning applying of pain-killers or other medications, it is necessary to consult with a physician specialized in fibromyalgia. Learn more about Fibromyalgia »
What foods trigger fibromyalgia pain?
The Arthritis Foundation has found that some food additives, like aspartame and monosodium glutamate, may worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. However, it goes on to say that there is still no research proof that adding or eliminating certain fools will help or worsen fibromyalgia symptoms.
Other studies have suggested that certain food ingredients may trigger inflammation that in turn triggers pain. They include refined sugar and starches, trans fat, and saturated fats. The best thing to do is to adopt and maintain a healthy diet, keep a journal of the food you eat, and use the process of elimination to determine if particular foods are triggering pain.
How to lose weight with fibromyalgia?
The plan for losing weight with fibromyalgia is similar to any plan for losing weight. You should eat fruits and vegetables; foods with healthy fats and whole grains; and chicken and fish. Eliminate processed foods and foods high in refined sugar and carbohydrates, and limit foods high in saturated fat.
What are the first signs of fibromyalgia?
One of the first signs of fibromyalgia is widespread pain that is felt in the ligaments and joints. A second early sign is an extreme fatigue, including waking up feeling tired. You may experience tenderness that feels almost flu-like and/or a burning or aching may develop. A fourth early sign is “mental fog” which refers to difficulty concentrating or losing short-term memory.
How to test for fibromyalgia?
Unfortunately, there is still no medical test that confirms or rules out fibromyalgia. Instead, the physician will first test for other conditions that present similar symptoms, like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The tests could include a complete blood count, thyroid function test, erythrocyte sedimentation rate test, and a test to check the Vitamin D level.
The doctor will perform a physical exam of the joints and muscles but will have to rely heavily on your symptoms to make a fibromyalgia diagnosis. For example, common symptoms include extreme fatigue, general pain that has lasted for more than three months, headaches, and depression.
As a note, some doctors will still use the test in which pressure is applied to 18 points on the body to identify tenderness. If 11 out of the 18 are tender, fibromyalgia is a likely diagnosis. However, since fibromyalgia symptoms are not constant, the results of this test may not be accurate. Even if the test is used, it is supplemented with the other tests mentioned.