Imagine being in pain-so much pain that hugging someone you love is excruciating. Different places on your body hurt when touched, pressure points, tender points that are specific to areas on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms and legs. When pressure is put on these points it causes excruciating pain.
Now, picture yourself going to your doctor, to many doctors, and they don’t believe you. There is no definitive blood test, no x-ray, no CT scan that will tell a doctor that their patient is suffering from this debilitating disease. Diagnosis takes a long time and a painful time.
A doctor who diagnosis this illness must look for a history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months. Pain must be present in both the right and left sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. This is what has happened to countless people who are suffering with Fibromyalgia.
Enter the world of a fibromyalgia patient. The body has 18 sites that are possible tender points. For fibromyalgia diagnosis a person must have 11 or more tender points. To be deemed a tender point, pain must be felt when pressure is applied to the site.
People who have fibromyalgia may feel pain at other sites, too, but those 18 sites on the body are used for diagnosis.
People with fibromyalgia have been known to have the following symptoms:
* Muscle pain.
* Trouble sleeping
* Joint pain, stiffness (sometimes worse in the morning)
* Restless legs
* Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
* Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”)
* Leg cramps
* Feeling nervous
* Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
* Painful cramping during your period
* Jaw pain
* Upset stomach, cramping, bloating, feeling constipated or diarrhea
* Trouble swallowing
* Frequent or painful urination
Because these symptoms can mimic many other diseases, Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose.
80-90% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women and are generally diagnosed in middle age, although men and children can also be affected. Individuals with a close family member with Fibromyalgia are more likely to develop the disease, as are people with certain other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or other types of arthritis.
As with many other diseases, the exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but there have been links established between the following:
* Having family member or family history of the disease
* Having been exposed to high stress or traumatic events like car accidents, injuries to the body by engaging in repetitive actions, infections or illness or even being deployed in a war zone.
Fibromyalgia is difficult to treat so it’s vital that you find a doctor who understands the illness and has treated others with the disease.
Some have found that a team approach to treating fibromyalgia works best, with a doctor, physical therapist, and other health care providers such as a pain or a rheumatology clinic.
Many people with Fibromyalgia also suffer from CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) but those with CFS do not have the pressure point pain that fibromyalgia sufferers have.
There is no cure for Fibromyalgia, and with most illnesses, the best way to take care of yourself is eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, get plenty of rest and follow the directions of your medical team.
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