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Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia (FM) is an increasingly recognized chronic pain illness. It is estimated that approximately 3-6% of the U.S. population has FM.
It is characterized by a range of symptoms, including:
• Pain- widespread and chronic, often described as deep muscular aching, throbbing, twitching, stabbing or shooting pain. Numbness, tingling and burning sometimes add to the discomfort of the patient.
• Fatigue- interferes with the simplest daily activities, limiting a patient’s ability to function both mentally and physically
• Sleep problems- prevents patients from getting deep, restful sleep
• Other symptoms include headaches and migraines, impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, and dizziness.
Currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing Fibromyalgia. Doctors must rely on patient histories, self-reported symptoms, a physical exam and an accurate manual tender point examination.
To receive a diagnosis of FM, the patient must meet the following diagnostic criteria:
- Widespread pain in all 4 quadrants of the body for at least 3 months
- Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied (see figure) FM is treated through many different approaches, including:
1. Pain management- Over-the-counter pain medications and a regular program of gentle exercise and stretching, which helps maintain muscle tone and reduces pain and stiffness.
2. Sleep management- practicing a healthy sleep regiment, including going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine, sugar, and snacks before bed, and practicing relaxation exercises as you fall to sleep. Sleep medications can also be prescribed if necessary.
3. Other treatments- Complementary therapies can be very beneficial, including physical therapy, therapeutic massage, application of heat or cold, light aerobics, relaxation exercises, breathing techniques, and cognitive therapy.
If you feel that you or someone you know may have fibromyalgia, please contact your physician. Please contact us for a consultation and treatments of either physical therapy or massage therapy.