Kids with Fibromyalgia
Until recently, most doctors and researchers assumed that fibromyalgia was an adult disorder. In a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 1993 a team of doctors in Israel found that 6.2 percent of the 338 healthy children ages 9-15 that they saw met the criteria for fibromyalgia. Many children who are seen for symptoms that sound like fibromyalgia are diagnosed with juvenile chronic arthritis, with psychiatric issues, or with “growing pains.” It is very important to understand that children do get fibromyalgia, to know how to diagnosis it and to help children to deal with this condition.
Diagnosing Fibromyalgia in Kids
If children report repeated and constant pains, their complaints need to be taken seriously. Growing shouldn’t be painful in a constant way, and it is important to have a child seen by a doctor if he reports this type of discomfort. Similarly, if a parent has FM, it is more likely that the child’s complaints are related to this condition. This is not to say that every child with a parent who has fibromyalgia will also have it; but if a child whose parent has the condition complains – take it seriously. You should suspect fibromyalgia in a child who sleeps restlessly and has a difficult time getting up on a constant basis. If this insomnia is coupled with pain, depression and anxiety, it is even more likely. Teachers may often identify an issue, as children with fibromyalgia tend to have trouble in school. They have a difficult time concentrating and this may be noticed by a teacher first.
Helping Children with Fibromyalgia
Parents should certainly explain the condition to their children and emphasize that the child has done nothing wrong. Children often feel that they are to blame if there is something wrong in their bodies, and they need to know that this is not the case. Your child may need an assessment of his abilities at school and a plan for children with learning disabilities. Depending on his symptoms and needs, your doctor may recommend certain medications, alternative therapies, psychological counseling, a nutritional assessment and more. Sometimes, doctors will put children with fibromyalgia on a low dose of a tricyclic agent or muscle relaxant.
The Parent of a Child with Fibromyalgia
It is not always easy to be the parent of a child with this condition. You’ll have to remember to be patient with the ups and downs that your child experiences. Some days will be worse than others, and your child may not always live up to expectations you may set in your household. Chores may need to be adjusted and teachers should be informed of your child’s needs. Be particularly sensitive to your child and try to monitor how he is doing in school, in his social environment, with his siblings and with you. Sometimes, children with fibromyalgia will be teased or taunted and it is very important to know when this is happening and to deal with it.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Doctors believe that fibromyalgia may not be as chronic in children as it is in adults. One study found that 30 months after the diagnosis, 11 of the 15 children who had fibromyalgia were no longer showing symptoms. It’s possible that fibromyalgia recovery is more favorable in children than it is in adults. Early intervention seems to be a key to helping children and it’s important to keep your hope alive for yourself, and your child, that recovery might be possible.