What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia or fibromyositis is a complex syndrome that affects 8 to12 million people. Though onset is usually between the ages of 35 and 54, and most sufferers are women, a recent study determined that fibromyalgia is genetic and can develop in children. It is also thought that fibromyalgia usually develops gradually and that symptoms often manifest following severe psychological stress, physical trauma, surgery or infection.
What is Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia has been around for hundreds of years, yet it is still a condition cloaked in misunderstanding. In no place is it more evident than in Mexican artist Frieda Kahlo's, self portrait, The Broken Arrow. Frieda began painting after being involved in a serious traffic accident. In the painting, arrows pass through her body at locations that seem to correlate with fibromyalgia's tender points. Was Frieda suffering from post-traumatic fibromyalgia and attempting to get her message across in the only way she knew, through her work? Experts believe the answer is yes. But because not all physicians are trained to recognize fibromyalgia symptoms, many others who suffer from this syndrome also may not been given a proper diagnosis. In the 1950s, fibromyalgia was generally called psychogenic rheumatism. Unfortunately, as its name proposes, psychogenic illness, caused by mental, emotional and/or behavioral issues, is self-generated. At the time, it was felt that if symptoms were being created by the patient they could also be stopped by the patient, therefore little credence was given to patients who exhibited fibromyalgia symptoms. Today, fibromyalgia is still much of a mystery. Diagnosis is elusive and treatment sporadic, at best. Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia mimic various diseases, it is difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. While widespread pain is still taken into consideration as the first symptom of fibromyalgia, specific points on the body are also used to help formulate the diagnosis. Generally it is a rheumatologist who tests for fibromyalgia based the patient's reaction to 11 of 18 specific tender points found throughout the body.
Pain and Fibromyalgia
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is generally localized in the shoulders, back, ribcage, chest, hips and thighs. The tender points physicians look for are located in pairs at various specific points on the body. Fibromyalgia Tender Points
Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
Along with the erratic, sometimes chronic pain of fibromyalgia comes horrendous fatigue. Fibromyalgia sufferers frequently experience a general feeling of malaise, which often downgrades to debilitating bone-weary fatigue. Fibromyalgic symptoms:
- extreme fatigue that is unexplained
- inability to work or perform everyday personal and social tasks
- widespread muscle pain
- chronic sore throat, brain fog and trouble with short term memory, unrefreshing sleep, tender lymph nodes and headaches.
The only pharmaceutical medication that has been specifically prescribed for fibromyalgia symptoms was created by Pfizer Global Research and Development in Ann Arbor in 2005. Toni Hoover, a psychologist and vice president and development site head of Pfizer said their product, Lyrica, was like a blanket to dampen the highly excited nerve endings. Unfortunately, many adverse reactions and side effects have been reported with Lyrica and some patients find it difficult to impossible to remain on the medication. Lyrica, generic name pregabalin, is the first drug FDA-approved for fibromyalgia symptoms.