What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a debilitating disorder that affects the soft tissue and muscles. It is characterized by extensive joint and muscle pain, fatigue and memory problems according to WebMD. Between 1-5% of all adults in America have fibromyalgia– 90% of these adults are women.
Despite fibromyalgia being the second most common musculoskeletal condition (the first is osteoarthritis), it is not understood completely in the medical world.
At times, fibromyalgia cannot be treated. Since fibromyalgia’s symptoms are usually similar to those of osteoarthritis, it is vital to understand its signs, symptoms, and risk factors.
What Is Fibromyalgia Risk Factors?
According to the Mayo Clinic, three risk factors would increase the chances of developing fibromyalgia. They are:
- Sex – women have higher chances of developing the disorder than men.
- Family History – fibromyalgia has a tendency of running in families; probably due to genetic mutations. Thus, if a member of your family member has the condition, you are likely to develop it too.
- Rheumatic Disease – people who have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis have more chances of developing fibromyalgia.
What Are The Signs/Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Individuals who have fibromyalgia usually experience fatigue and pain. At times, the condition causes particular parts of the body to be painful to touch. The pain is like that of a part that has been overworked or pulled. The disorder may also affect your sleeping habits thus limiting the period you can sleep restfully and thus may cause depression.
Other symptoms as listed by WebMD are:
- Abdominal pain
- Chronic headaches
- Inability to concentrate
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Numbness in the fingers and feet
- Hypersensitivity to heat and cold
- Dryness in the eyes, nose and mouth
Treatment for Fibromyalgia
Before your doctor concludes that you are suffering from fibromyalgia, he must first eliminate other possible causes for your symptoms. The process may include the taking of blood tests to eliminate other conditions known to cause fatigue and pain.
According to Consumer Reports, “Because there is not a single, specific cause of fibromyalgia and the symptoms can vary from patient to patient, choosing an effective treatment can be challenging. Experts say the best, overall strategy includes both medications and nondrug therapies, such as exercise, counseling, and stress relief.”
Having said that, here are the medications used to treat fibromyalgia:
- Pain Relievers – these can range from over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and prescription pain-relief drugs. Pain relievers reduce the discomfort thus enabling you to sleep better through the night. A wide variety of painkillers is available for purchase. It is not advisable to take narcotics as they may worsen the pain over time and may lead to dependence.
- Antiepileptics – such medications as Neurontin (Gabapentin or Gralise) and Pregabalin (Lyrica) have shown to be extremely helpful in lessening the pain of those suffering from fibromyalgia.
- Antidepressants – medications like Amitriptyline, Aventyl, Aventyl (Nortriptyline), Celexa (Citalopram), Prozac, Prozac Weekly (Fluoxetine), Paxil, Paxil CR (Paroxetine), Cymbalta (Duloxetine) and Savella (Milnacipran) they help to reduce the fatigue and pain that result from fibromyalgia.
Taking into account the evidence of their effectiveness and safety as well as their price, Consumer Reports has selected 3 “Best Buy Drugs” as initial options for you to consider if you and your doctor have decided that a medication is appropriate for your fibromyalgia symptoms:
If you need additional information on specific treatment alternatives, upkeep as well as tools for those who have fibromyalgia, visit the National Fibromyalgia Association.
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