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ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition in which there are changes in how the central nervous system processes pain. It is a form of persistent widespread pain condition that is commonly associated with other symptoms, including fatigue and sleep.

Research shows that changes in the central nervous system cause the brain to process pain signals abnormally in fibromyalgia, leading to pain becoming amplified. The hypersensitivity can occur anywhere from the brain down the spinal cord. We don’t know as yet why it occurs but it can occur sometimes after a triggering event. It is as if the “volume control setting” for pain is abnormally high. This is known in science as “central sensitization”.

Many of these central nervous system changes also influence sleep, mood and energy, since the nerves transmitting the information are the same. This helps explain some of the other common symptoms that one sees with this condition.

Common symptoms include:  widespread pain; multiple tender points; concentration and memory issues known as ‘fibrofog’; migraine; facial pain; IBS; low mood; intolerance to cold; chronic fatigue;  chest pain; widespread numbness and pins and needles.

The exact causes of fibromyalgia are not fully understood. However, MRI studies on patients with this condition show that changes in the brain occur and that these changes might be responsible for the low threshold to pain.

Evidence suggests that there may be genetic and environmental factors that can make some individuals susceptible to the development of fibromyalgia.

There are also suggestions that the following all could be potential triggers that sets off the nervous system changes leading to FM

  1. Major surgery

  2. Recent bereavement or emotional trauma (divorce, imprisonment, murder, abuse)

  3. Road traffic accidents

  4. Serious infection either chest or stomach

  5. Significant adversity either in childhood (before 18) or during late 20s (such as physical/emotional/sexual abuse or neglect or major family dysfunction.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

Can Fibromyalgia be cured?

Fibromyalgia is similar to other chronic conditions in that it cannot be cured, but symptoms can be controlled.

New treatments are available so much can be done to improve symptoms and function to enable individuals to get back to doing more of the things that they enjoy which are important to them.

There are also lots of support groups, books and websites that provide a lot of useful help and information about how to manage this condition.

How is Fibromyalgia treated?

The approach to fibromyalgia management and treatment follows important principles of comprehensive assessment by taking a thorough personal and family history followed by pain education, goal setting and a variety of treatments, including non-pharmacological therapies (e.g., physical activity, behavioural therapy, sleep hygiene) and pharmacological(medication) treatments (e.g., amitryptiline, duloxetine, gabapentin and pregabalin).

There is an important role of self management in all of this as the patients are encouraged to be more empowered.

How is Fibromyalgia treated?

The approach to fibromyalgia management and treatment follows important principles of comprehensive assessment by taking a thorough personal and family history followed by pain education, goal setting and a variety of treatments, including non-pharmacological therapies (e.g., physical activity, behavioural therapy, sleep hygiene) and pharmacological(medication) treatments (e.g., amitryptiline, duloxetine, gabapentin and pregabalin).

There is an important role of self management in all of this as the patients are encouraged to be more empowered.