May is Fibromyalgia awareness month, when people worldwide strive to spread awareness for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. Creating awareness is important, as painful symptoms of fibromyalgia do not stem from any visible or obvious injury. To others, fibromyalgia pain may seem random, unexplained, or even imaginary. Fibromyalgia pain is very real to those affected, but those around them my not understand or believe them.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is chronic disorder marked by widespread, unexplained pain in the muscles and joints. People with Fibromyalgia commonly have pain and tenderness all over the body. It is often accompanied by profound fatigue, sleep disturbances and related psychological stresses, such as depression or anxiety. Women are far more likely to develop Fibromyalgia than men.
How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There is no lab test for fibromyalgia. It can be difficult to diagnose, and not all doctors are skilled at recognizing fibromyalgia. Diagnosis requires thorough patient history, an accurate recording of symptoms, a physical examination. It is important to rule out other conditions that may be causing chronic pain.
Can Fibromyalgia be treated?
Yes, there are many treatment options — but unfortunately there is no cure. Fibromyalgia is a condition that has to be managed. No two patients are alike – what works for one person, may not for another. It is very important to work with a doctor that is familiar with Fibromyalgia.
What lifestyle changes can provide relief?
Regular exercise is very beneficial. This can be difficult for Fibromyalgia sufferers to consider, because increased exertion often equals increased pain and fatigue. However, many patients that do develop a regular exercise program experience worthwhile improvements. Getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and eating well is also important.
How can patients cope?
Fibromyalgia can take toll on marriage and friendships. Because people can’t see the pain, they don’t understand it.
Support groups can be very helpful – being surrounded by people who understand. If you are suffering, get help – you are not alone. Educating yourself (and your family) about Fibromyalgia, and variety of treatment / techniques for managing symptoms is essential
More information and resources can also be found online:
The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association http://www.fmcpaware.org/
National Fibromyalgia Association: www.fmaware.org
Riverhills Neuroscience: www.riverhillsneuro.com
Janalee Krick Rissover MD specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Riverhills Neuroscience in Montgomery. Doctors specializing in PM&R treat a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, and are especially skilled at treating and diagnosing chronic conditions of pain such as Fibromyalgia.