How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed and Treated?

Unfortunately fibromyalgia is not well understood by people and doctors do not know many things about this disease. Some of the possible symptoms are: fatigue, insomnia, tissue pain and tender points. Doctors have not found a cure yet for this affection but they are still searching for one.

It seems that mostly women are affected by fibromyalgia. From the world’s population 3.4% of the women have this disease and only 0.5 of the men are affected by this illness.

Fibromyalgia can not be detected by a laboratory test and because of that many scientists thought that fibromyalgia was triggered by negative emotions or it was a psychosomatic affection.

Until now scientists have proved that there has been altered the brain chemistry in these patients who come with an affected sleep pattern. These patients complain about being tired even after sleeping for a long time. Some say that they wake up during the sleep for several times. Scientists have concluded that sleeping problems associated with stress can lead to fibromyalgia. Other tests have showed that these patients have small levels of insulin growth factor, meaning a low secretion of growth hormone.

Even the intense pain perception has been explained by the increased level of cerebrospinal fluid substance P found in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Endocrine disturbances have also been found in these patients meaning that they have a decreased production of the steroid cortisol. This steroid is found in a high level in those suffering of depression.

The intense pain patients feel is not a result of damage or inflammation in their body but it is cause by a central defect in pain processing. Some say that these disturbances can also be caused by psychological traumas but this fact has not been completely proven yet.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia is not easy to make, it needs an observation for a long time of the symptoms along with a physical examination. There have been found more than 11 tender points in the neck, shoulders, lower back, buttocks, hips, elbows and knees that seem to be present in fibromyalgia.

Before diagnosing fibromyalgia the doctor must check the thyroid because hypothyroidism can give symptoms resembling to those in fibromyalgia. Myofascial pain syndrome can manifest as fibromyalgia too. This is why it is not easy diagnosing immediately without a complete physical exam and tests that exclude other affections.

Treatment is available but it is special for every patient. A relieve of the symptoms might be brought by acupuncture, psychotherapy, chiropractic care, massage and physical therapy along with low doses of antidepressant drugs. In some patients symptoms might still be present after treatment is done.

Some studies have proved that associating a tricyclic antidepressant with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor will be more effective than if these drugs are taken separately.

Tender points and pains can be relieved with aerobic exercise and strength-training activities, but these activities take time and the patient need to be well motivated to follow these activities. Maybe a workout partner could convince him to follow these trainings for a longer period of time.

Another treatment option is using opioid analgesic therapy. This therapy must also be followed for a long period of time. Aspirin and ibuprofen have been proven to be not efficient in treating fibromyalgia.

If all treatment options have run out and did not bring any improvement, a new therapy might be tried but is very expensive. This treatment is actually a hormonal therapy based on correcting the growth hormone lack in the patient’s organism.

All treatment should be tried before giving up and patients should know that results will not be seen immediately but only after applying treatment for a longer period of time.