Fibromyalgia is a common and often chronic disorder characterized by a generalized, aching pain in the muscles. Patients with fibromyalgia may have other accompanying symptoms including fatigue, irritable bowel symptoms, difficulty sleeping, headaches, depression, and difficulties with concentration, memory and the ability to focus (aka the “fibro fog”).
By some estimates, fibromyalgia affects over 5 millions people in the US aged 18 or older with the majority of those being women. Although the cause of fibromyalgia is not known, multiple factors can be involved including a history of a very stressful or traumatic event. Chronic pain can also lead to individuals developing fibromyalgia symptoms based in part on how the central nervous system processes pain. In some cases of uncontrolled inflammatory arthritic conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, proper treatment of the underlying arthritis can alleviate or reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Although fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, it often requires a team approach with various health professionals that understand it. Proper sleep and exercise are important to help with recovery. There are several FDA approved medications that can be used to help treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but many times other medications may be used. Many patients may find benefit with alternative and complementary therapies such as chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, and massage.