Fibromyalgia Care Guide
If you experience unrelenting, widespread chronic pain and don't know why, then you might have undiagnosed fibromyalgia.
The syndrome is an incurable condition that doesn't do any damage to your body parts but causes body-wide pain with more intense pain at specific tender points in the body. Fibromyalgia usually causes extreme fatigue and those who have the condition also usually have sleep problems.
Medical researchers aren't sure if the sleep problems are a cause of the syndrome or a symptom. Some studies suggest that certain types of sleep problems or disorders make an individual more susceptible to getting fibro.
Basic Information About Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men and is often called the "invisible disease." For many years during the early history of fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia diagnosis, those with the condition were thought to making up their symptoms.
The symptoms aren't measurable and can't be seen on the body like conditions like arthritis and gout. The symptoms also vary widely from afflicted person to afflicted person.
There is still a judging attitude among some people, including a few in the medical community, who continue to believe that fibromyalgia is more a psychological problem than an actual physical one. They believe that sufferers are thinking themselves into pain, so to speak, and the pain that they claim to have is a figment of an overactive imagination and the desire to attention.
Fighting Negative Perceptions About Fibromyalgia
The only way to fight negative perceptions about fibromyalgia is to educate. May 12 is the annual National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.
On this day sufferers of the condition and their family and friends get together to promote the education of the condition and encourage a better understanding of it. This day is celebrated throughout the world and involves walks, educational seminars as resources for those who suffer from this chronic condition.
Click here to find out more about what is being done nationally and internationally to improve an understanding of the condition and learn what you can do to help.
Since so few fully understand the condition, even in the medical community, it can take a significant amount of time to get correctly diagnosed. The National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) reports that it takes the average fibromyalgia sufferer five years to become properly diagnosed.
It's important to become your personal health advocate and fight to make sure you get the medical care you need. Try not to become frustrated and remain persistent. The pain you are experiencing is real and while there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there are a variety of things you can do to relieve the symptoms so you can live a more normal life.
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has come up with some diagnosis criteria to make it easier for physicians to diagnose fibro. In order to have the condition you must have pain in 11 of 18 specific spots in the body called tender points. Your healthcare practitioner will test these spots with a manual tender point inspection. The manual inspection is done by pressing specific points on the body or adding weight to specific points of the body.
Increased pain mean a positive tender point examination. Unfortunately, there are no laboratory tests to confirm fibromyalgia which makes it a very difficult condition to diagnose. Your healthcare practitioner may order blood and urine tests to rule out other conditions. Sleep studies and even a lumbar (spinal) tap may be done to make sure there are no other causes for your pain.
What You Can Do
You physician may prescribe an assortment of medications and get you to take cognitive behavioral therapy to help with your symptoms. These can be very effective, but it's important that you personally do what you can to help alleviate the symptoms of your condition.
Make sure you practice good sleep habits. Exercise can go a long way towards helping increase your flexibility and overall strength. Don't be afraid to try alternative forms of treatment. They can be very effective.