What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is defined as rheumatic pain in soft tissue, which is seen with widespread muscle pain and progresses with sleep disturbance, weakness, muscle tenderness and fatigue. It manifests itself especially with tenderness in certain parts of the body. 
Although the causes of the disease are not known exactly, there is statistical information about the detection rates. For example, it is known that this disease, which is three times more likely to be seen in women than in men, is generally seen in adults between the ages of 25-55. Although rare, it can also be seen in childhood. 
Accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which can be easily confused with other diseases due to its symptoms, is very important. 
 Fibromyalgia is a common type among rheumatic diseases. For this reason, the correct diagnosis should be made by taking the patient's history well and performing the necessary examinations. 
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. However, it is thought that genetic and environmental factors affect the emergence of the disease. Perfectionism, emotional instability, and extreme rigor have been identified in the psychological characteristics of many fibromyalgia patients.

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia symptoms manifest as tenderness and pain in certain parts of the body. In addition to pain in the lower back and neck, pain may also occur in the shoulders, elbows, knees and hands. Patients may also experience tension-type headaches. Compared to normal headaches, this pain is felt more intensely. In this respect, fibromyalgia is a condition that is very uncomfortable for patients and has negative effects on quality of life. 
In addition to these symptoms fatigue, sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep, not being able to rest despite sleeping a lot, waking up tired, and difficulty getting out of bed may occur. 
Other symptoms can be listed as follows:

  • Depressed mood and anxiety
  • Difficulty focusing and attention deficits
  • Fatigue and weakness during exercise
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Feeling any pain more than normal with increased perception of pain
  • Feeling various stimuli as pain
  • Palpitation
  • Edema
  • Digestive complaints (constipation, diarrhea, gas, etc.)

What Are Fibromyalgia Zones?

Although fibromyalgia occurs with widespread pain in the body, fibromyalgia patients have fibromyalgia zones called tender points or trigger points in their body. Since these areas are very sensitive, even light pressure causes pain. It is thought that there are 18 tender points in fibromyalgia patients. Some of these trigger points are located on the head, shoulder, and chest. Although the pain at these points is not sufficient for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, it is evaluated during the examination to distinguish the disease from other diseases.

What are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Studies on the causes of the disease have often focused on explaining why patients feel pain. 
Two theories come to the fore in explaining the sensitivity to pain in fibromyalgia patients. One of them explains fibromyalgia by lowering the pain threshold in areas of the brain that sense pain. According to this theory, in situations where pain is not normally felt, extreme pain is felt due to the low pain threshold. The other theory interprets fibromyalgia as pain-sensing receptors becoming more sensitive, perceiving even a small pain as a big pain, and therefore an overreaction in the body. 
In the formation of this disease, two issues are emphasized, namely genetic and environmental factors. 
Genetic factors are very important for the disease. People with a first degree relative with fibromyalgia are 8 times more likely to develop this disease. However, as a result of various studies, it has been revealed that there are environmental factors that trigger fibromyalgia, apart from genetic predisposition. 
Environmental factors are more diverse. Some infections are among the known environmental factors. Although infections are not directly associated with fibromyalgia, it is thought to affect the formation of the disease. For this reason, previous infections should also be taken into account when taking the patient's history. 
In general, a stressful lifestyle has many negative effects on the body. Stress is thought to trigger fibromyalgia by causing disruptions in the functioning of hormones. Stress can also occur as a result of emotional or physical trauma in childhood or adulthood. In this case, trauma and stress can affect the emergence of fibromyalgia. 
Another issue that is emphasized among the factors that trigger fibromyalgia is the character structure of the person. Some people may be more sensitive to events or have a personality that is more prone to stress. Especially perfectionists may become more prone to fibromyalgia by being under intense stress at work or in their daily life.

Risk Groups for Fibromyalgia

Considering the risk factors, in some diseases, gender can be an effective factor like genetics; indeed, fibromyalgia syndrome is more common in women than men. As mentioned earlier, the incidence of the disease is higher in people with a family history of fibromyalgia. This indicates that genetic predisposition may also pose a risk. 
Considering other diseases, it was determined that the disease was more common in patients with depression and sleep disorders; however, it is difficult to establish a clear cause-effect relationship here. Having another rheumatic disease is also a risk factor for fibromyalgia.

How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

When diagnosing fibromyalgia, a physical examination should be performed along with taking the patient's history. Since there is no specific test for fibromyalgia, it is investigated whether fibromyalgia is the cause of these disorders in patients with a long-standing pain complaint in many parts of the body. If these pains are specific to a certain area, fibromyalgia is not diagnosed, but if there are general pains that spread throughout the body and these pains continue for more than three months, the possibility of fibromyalgia can be investigated. 
During the physical examination, pressure is applied to the fibromyalgia points, also called trigger points, and the presence of pain is checked. The accepted rate for diagnosing fibromyalgia at these points is pain in 11 of 18 points. 
In order to make an accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia, the doctor may order additional tests to check for other diseases. However, this is not for fibromyalgia, but to reveal if there are other diseases that could be confused with fibromyalgia. Therefore, fibromyalgia can only be understood by patient history and physical examination, not by tests.

Fibromyalgia Attacks

It has also been observed that fibromyalgia progresses as a disease whose severity can increase or decrease periodically. In these cases, patients may experience fibromyalgia attacks. During these periods when the pain is intensified, it is recommended that patients rest to feel better, avoid things that can cause stress, focus on positive thoughts, and turn to activities that will relax themselves, such as meditation or favorite hobbies. Maintaining a sleep pattern and a healthy diet will also help a lot.

Fibromyalgia Treatment

Although fibromyalgia is not a life-threatening disease, it should be followed carefully because it adversely affects the quality of life. Treatment of patients requires teamwork. This team should include a physical therapist, physiotherapist and psychologist. There are both medical and non-medical treatment methods of the disease and it is generally recommended to use them together. 
In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes may be necessary in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Because fibromyalgia can be triggered by stress and psychological trauma, patients are advised to lead a stress-free and calm life. If there is a stressful work environment, job change or taking measures to reduce stress; if additional psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression occur, getting support from specialists for their treatment is among the things that can be done to alleviate the effects of fibromyalgia. 
Physical therapy can be applied to the patient in order to relax the painful muscles and to relax the patient.

What Is Good For Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia patients seek the answers to the question "What is good for fibromyalgia?" to relieve the pain. Apart from the treatments to be applied by the doctor, in order to alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, it is necessary to avoid eating right before sleep and to prefer calming drinks such as herbal teas instead of stimulating drinks such as tea, coffee and cola. A warm shower also helps improve sleep quality. For a healthy diet, patients should not stay hungry for a long time and avoid heavy foods that will weigh down the body.

Exercising is of great importance in terms of eliminating muscle problems and increasing the quality of life for those who work at a desk or adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Since fibromyalgia is a disease in which pain is felt in the muscles, appropriate exercises can be used in its treatment. 
Fibromyalgia exercises aim to strengthen the muscles and make the patient more resistant. However, random and unconscious execution of the exercises does not provide healing and may even cause injuries.

Very heavy exercises are not recommended for fibromyalgia. Instead, exercises that will strengthen the muscles step by step and make the muscles more flexible are recommended. Pilates and yoga are options that can be preferred for flexibility. Other exercises can be done with the guidance of a specialist and the preference of the person. 

Created at 11.10.2023 06:21
Updated at 29.10.2023 07:39
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