Recognizing Fibromyalgia Symptoms
\"It\'s All in Your Head:\" Fibro Symptoms
Until about 30 years ago, fibromyalgia went mostly unrecognized and certainly undiagnosed. The chronic muscle pain and fatigue that characterized this mysterious ailment drove people, mostly women, to the doctor. Doctors often could not find a concrete physiological cause for the symptoms since all of the diagnostic tests appeared normal and the symptoms seemed to be without explanation. The result was that the patient was frequently told, \"It\'s all in your head.\"
Thankfully, there has been a lot of research since the time fibromyalgia first began showing up and the research has been ongoing. Better physiological and biological evidence for the disease is being gathered and as a result, more is being done to develop strategies for treatment that work.
A Difficult Syndrome to Diagnose
The symptoms of fibromyalgia often overlap with other autoimmune diseases and musculoskeletal conditions which makes it difficult to diagnose. Although there are some defining symptoms, there are myriad others that appear in combination with the basic symptoms. In many cases, clearly diagnosing fibromyalgia can take up to five years because of the confusing overlap of symptoms.
Criteria for Diagnosis of FM
In 1990, The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) listed two primary criteria for classifying fibromyalgia.
· A history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a period of three months at least. This means the pain must be evident in both right and left sides and both above and below the waist.
· Upon physical examination there must be the presence of pain in 11 of the 18 tender points when touched or pressed with force amounting to the equivalent of nine pounds or four kilograms.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the 18 tender points of fibromyalgia occur at nine bilateral muscle locations:
· Front neck area (low cervical region)
· Front chest area (second rib)
· Back of the neck (occiput)
· Back shoulder area (trapezius muscle)
· Shoulder blade area (supraspinatus muscle)
· Elbow area (lateral epicondyle)
· Rear End (gluteal)
· Rear hip (greater trochanter)
· Knee area (knee)
Confirmed local regional pain in 11 of these 18 points is one of the main diagnostic evidences of fibromyalgia (FM).
There has been recent data that shows FM sufferers may also have increased sensitivity to pain throughout their bodies, whether it moves around or is localized. Many experts agree that FM results from malfunction in the central nervous system and that fibromyalgia may be a response to stress and psycho-behavioral factors. Although the primary target of FM seems to be women of childbearing age, there are many men, older people, children, and teens who deal with it as well.