Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Learn all about fibromyalgia and its symptoms, causes, treatment, tests and diagnosis.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain followed by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.Exact underlying cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown but is presumed that various factors like psychological, genetic, neurological and environmental factors play important role in the development of firomyalgia. Some common symptoms of fibromyalgia are joint stiffness, fatigue, sleep disturbance bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling, cognitive impairment and difficulty in swallowing.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

 It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 2–4% of the population and women are more prone to get involved in fibromyalgia.It is observed that patients suffering from fibromyalgia also have problems like anxiety, , and other psychiatric problems.Scientists believed that  fibromyalgia amplifies the signals of pain by painful sensations by causing alterations in pain sensing mechanism.In many cases symptoms of fibromyalgia appear in  the presence of certain stimuli like infection, surgery, psychological stress and any kind of physical trauma.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Symptoms of fibromyalgia are moderate to severe depending upon the severity of condition and other triggering factors like trauma, injury, surgery or psychological stress.some commonly reported symptoms of fibromyalgia are

  • Joint stiffness
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Depression
  • Muscle spasms
  • Allodynia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • paresthesia
  • Palpitation
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle twitching

 Causes of Fibromyalgia

It is difficult to identify exact cause of fibromyalgia but researchers believed that fibromyalgia is associated with factors like psychological factors, environmental factors,genetic factors and pattern of life style.

Genetic causes

people having fibromyalgia in their history are more prone to get involved in this disease due to their specific genetic pattern.It is still not clearly understood that how genetic pattern play key role in the development of fibromyalgia. Researchers believed that fibromyalgia is highly associated with polymorphism of specific genes which are present in serotoninergic, dopaminergic and catecholaminergic systems.This polymorphism is also associated with some other disorders like irritable bowel syndrome,Depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and other psychiatric disorders.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Psychological Causes

Many evidence support correlation of fibromyalgia and psychological disorders like major depressive disorder.Although nature of this correlation is still unknown but association between  major depressive disorder and fibromyalgia has may similarities in neurological abnormalities and physical symptoms.Unfortunately currently available findings are not enough to support  the hypothesis that fibromyalgia and major depressive disorder refer to the same underlying construct or can be seen as subsidiaries of one disease concept.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Life style

Life style pattern is strongly  associated with fibromyalgia.Specific life style pattern having stress, lack of physical and social activities and unhygienic environment play important role  in the development of fibromyalgia. People who are living in unhealthy and unhygienic environment are more susceptible to infectious and contagious diseases.Moreover, stressful life style is another important factor that plays key role in the development of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Tests and Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

In past, American College of  rheumatology made criteria for fibromyalgia which includes location of nine tender points.Doctors check these nine specific points on a person’s body to see how many of them are painful when pressed firmly.But now diagnosis of fibromyalgia becomes more precise and accurate due to advancements in diagnosis equipment’s.New tests which are helpful in diagnosis of fibromyalgia are

  • Digital X-ray
  • DEXA scan
  • MRI
Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis
Tender Points associated with Fibromyalgia

Treatment of Fibromyalgia

There is no complete cure of firomyalgia but with the help of certain medication it can managed efficiently.Treatment for fibromyalgia include both and self-care.Main purpose of taking medications is to minimize the pain associated with fibromyalgia. Medications which are currently used in the treatment of fibromyalgia are

Pain-killers

Many pain killers belong to Class of NSAID (non-steroida anti-inflammatory drugs).These are available as over the counter drugs(OTC) and does not require prescription of doctor.Mechanism of these pain killer medicines or NSAIDS is inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 receptors which responsible for production  of prostaglandins.Some of these prostaglandins are basicaly inflammatory mediators of pain and swelling.Most commonly used pain-killers or NASIDS are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Synflex).

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Opioids

Opioids are also pain relieving medicines but they belong to class of narcotics and should be used only in case of severe pain like nerve pain, traumatic pain, post-operative pain and can be used in fibromyalgia.Basic mechanism of these is inhibition of pain sensitization and providing analgesia.Opioids are frequently used in case of severe pain due to its rapid action and analgesia.But main side effect associated with opioids is risk of addiction and withdrawal effects after long-term usage of these opioids.Most commonly used opioid is tramadol. It is used in combination with paracetamol to increase the efficacy of treatment.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Anti-seizure drugs

Anti-seizure drugs are necessary to used in the treatment of fibromyalgia due to muscle twitching and neuropathic pain.Basic mechanism of these anti-seizure drugs is that they increase the threshold frequency of seizure due to which seizures does not occur.But anti-seizure medications should be used for short-term period of time because they can cause blood dyscrasia, anemia asthenia and weakness of nervous system.Examples of anti-seizure drugs are pre-gabalin, Gabapentin and carbamazepine.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

Anti-depressant drugs

Anti-depressants are drugs are used in fibromyalgia because stress and depression is strongly associated with this disorder.Moreover, patient suffering from fibromyalgia has sleep disturbances and some kind of other psychiatric illness like major depressive disorder so, anti-depressants are part of fibromyalgia therapy.Examples of these anti-depressants are Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella).

Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Tests and Diagnosis

About Dr. Arslan Malik

Dr. Arslan Malik
Arslan Malik is noted health blogger, public health activist, aspiring dreamer and avid reader. With doctor in pharmacy, he has worked closely with various health organizations, multinational pharmaceuticals and community health programs. Beside his professional practice, he has an avid interest in writing and teaching Physiology and Medicines. He covers variety of topics from Nutrition and Natural Care to Diseases, Treatments, Drug Interactions, Preventive Care and Clinical Research.

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