An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. And while up to 90% of people who have the condition are female, fibromyalgia can affect anyone, and the chance of getting it increases with age.
A chronic pain condition, little is understood about fibromyalgia, though genetics are thought to play a role. Furthermore, physical and emotional trauma as well as illness may also contribute to its development or make symptoms worse.
Though there is no known cure, there are a number of options to treat the symptoms. In this blog, Hui Kang, MD, of Houston Pain Specialists discusses the illness and the potential ways to treat its symptoms.
Experts believe fibromyalgia stems from the body’s inability to report pain correctly. With this condition, the body amplifies pain and fatigue signals out of proportion to the actual circumstances.
Methods for diagnosing fibromyalgia have changed over the years, but now most doctors will consider a fibromyalgia diagnosis if a patient has widespread pain lasting three months or longer that doesn’t have an observable cause.
Pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment — also called “fibro fog” — are the major symptoms, and fibromyalgia often coexists with other painful or chronic conditions, including:
There’s no known cure for fibromyalgia, and since its causes are unknown, symptom management is the only treatment option at this time. There’s no single therapy that can address all symptoms, but there are a number of techniques and medications that can help reduce pain and fatigue.
Pain medication can help, but it’s not an effective long-term solution, since drug dependence and resistance can add complications as time passes. Some patients have also found pain relief from medications not usually used to manage physical pain, such as antidepressants and anti-seizure medications.
Gentle exercise can increase mobility and energy as well as reduce fatigue. Yoga is often cited as an effective activity for fibromyalgia management. Tai chi is another popular option. Physical therapy and massage therapy can also produce similar results. Furthermore, these therapies can often relieve stress that fibromyalgia can cause. Despite the challenges presented by the condition, staying active is one of the best ways to combat fibromyalgia symptoms.
For those with vitamin B12 deficiencies, supplements may help reduce fatigue levels. More research is being done on supplementation and its effect on fibromyalgia symptoms.
Medical marijuana and other products derived from the cannabis plant have been found to help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, though this is an emerging therapy without a deep history of research. Other treatments, such as acupuncture, acupressure, and biofeedback may also reduce pain and relieve fatigue in some patients.
If you have fibromyalgia and are seeking relief, Houston Pain Specialists can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.