FIBRO FAST FACTS
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Recent and ongoing clinical trials have shown that Fibromyalgia is not a Rheumatic condition but a neuroendocrine illness. Most patients with fibromyalgia say that they ache all over. Their muscles may feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Sometimes the muscles twitch and at other times they burn. More women than men are afflicted with fibromyalgia but recent research shows that more and more men are being diagnosed with the condition.
What are the Symptoms?
Although chronic, widespread body pain is the primary symptom of Fibromyalgia, a variety of other symptoms are common in FM patients. Symptoms include: moderate to severe fatigue, sleep disorders, problems with cognitive functioning, IBS, headaches and migraines, morning stiffness, restless legs syndrome, tingling and numbness, anxiety and depression, and environmental sensitivities. The list is by no means exhaustive.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Recent research suggests FM may be genetic. The disorder is often seen in families, among siblings or mothers and their children.
Fibromyalgia often occurs following a physical trauma, such as an acute illness or injury, which may act as a “trigger” in the development of the disorder.
Increasing attention is being devoted to the central nervous system as the underlying mechanism for FM. Recent studies have suggested that FM patients have generalised disturbance in pain processing and an amplified response to stimuli that would not ordinarily be painful in healthy individuals.
Who Is Affected by Fibromyalgia?
Although an exact figure is unknown for the UK, FM is quite a common condition. Between 80 to 90 percent of people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia are women. However, men and children can also have the disorder and more men and children are being diagnosed every day. Most people are diagnosed during middle age – although younger people can get it too.
How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It's important to find a GP who is familiar with the disorder and its treatment. Fortunately, more and more doctors, including GPs know what to do. For best results the patient should be treated by the doctor and other health care professionals. Patients must be actively involved in their own treatment plan.
Each patient is different and will require individualised treatment. Treatment will usually include some or all of the following:
· An exercise programme
· Low dose anti-depressants
· Behaviour modification therapy
· Eating a well balanced diet
You doctor may also prescribe pain relieving medication and other medication to fight the various symptoms as the condition.
Will I Get Better?
There is no cure for Fibromyalgia. However, treatment is a lot better today than it used to be. Clinical studies have shown that your symptoms can improve if you follow your treatment programme. Keep working with trained health care professionals, as well as informed and motivated patients and you will experience improvements in your symptoms and quality of life.
What Research Is Being Done on Fibromyalgia?
Most research is carried out in the USA (due to funding from the drug companies there), although a few specialists here in the UK have conducted valuable clinical studies into various aspects of Fibromylagia.
Research ongoing includes:
· Why people with Fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to pain
· Medicines and behavioural treatments
· Whether there is a gene or genes that make a person more likely to have Fibromyalgia
· The use of imaging methods, such as magnetic resonate imaging (MRI), to better understand Fibromyalgia
· Inflammation in the body and its relationship to Fibromyalgia.
· Nondrug therapies to help reduce pain
· Methods to improve sleep in people with Fibromyalgia
· Why those with Fibromyalgia have increased Levels of Substance P (the substance which stimulates pain)
· The neurological abnormalities in people with Fibromyalgia (reduced blood flow to brain, non functioning of Hippocampus)