What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is defined as rheumatic pain in soft tissue, which manifests itself with widespread muscle pain and progresses to 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 precisely, 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 essential.
 Fibromyalgia is a common type of rheumatic disease. 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, which are felt more intensely than regular headaches. In this respect, fibromyalgia is a condition that is very uncomfortable for patients and has adverse effects on quality of life.
In addition to these symptoms, fatigue and 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 usual 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 bodies. Since these areas are susceptible, even light pressure causes pain. It is thought that there are 18 tender points in fibromyalgia patients. Some trigger points are on the head, shoulder, and chest. Although the pain at these points is insufficient for diagnosing 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 explain the sensitivity to pain in fibromyalgia patients. One of them suggests that fibromyalgia is caused by a lowering of the pain threshold in the brain's pain-sensing areas. According to this theory, extreme pain is experienced due to the low pain threshold in situations where pain is not usually felt. The other theory interprets fibromyalgia as pain-sensing receptors becoming more sensitive. This theory suggests that fibromyalgia patients perceive even a slight pain as a significant pain, causing an overreaction in the body.
In the formation of this disease, two issues are emphasized, namely genetic and environmental factors.
Genetic factors are significant for the disease. People with a first-degree relative with fibromyalgia are eight 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 ecological 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 considered when taking the patient's history.
In general, a stressful lifestyle has many adverse 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 lives.

Risk Groups for Fibromyalgia

Considering the risk factors, in some diseases, gender can be an influential 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 and taking the patient's history should be performed. 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. Suppose these pains are specific to a particular area. In that case, fibromyalgia is not diagnosed, but if there are general pains that spread throughout the body. These pains continue for more than three months, and 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.
To diagnose fibromyalgia accurately, the doctor may order additional tests to check for other diseases. However, this is not for fibromyalgia but to reveal whether other diseases could be confused. 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 them, 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 monitored carefully because it adversely affects quality of life. Treatment requires teamwork. This team should include a physical therapist, physiotherapist, and psychologist. The disease has medical and non-medical treatment methods, 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. Suppose there is a stressful work environment, job change, or taking measures to reduce stress. In that case, 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 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 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 long and avoid heavy foods that will weigh down the body.

Exercising is essential in 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.

Hefty 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 a specialist's guidance and the person's preference.

Created at 11.10.2023 06:21
Updated at 27.04.2024 09:49
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