Fibromyalgia (FM) is an illness which patients often present a mixture of symptoms: chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive disturbances. Currently, researchers have not found the cause of the disease and there is no single lab test that can diagnose the disease. However, it is postulated that patient with fibromyalgia has a malfunction in processing pain and sensation in their central nervous system.
Fibromyalgia is more common in women than men, and it is more common in individual who has an existing rheumatic disease. Patients are often hypersensitive to pain and can perceive pain from non-painful stimuli. Interestingly, there is often no evidence of tissue inflammation despite the presence of physical pain.
Patient with Fibromyalgia Usually Present with The Following 4 Symptoms:
1. Widespread musculoskeletal pain
The pain usually happens on both side (bilateral) and involves both the upper and lower body.
Fatigue especially after waking up, and mid-afternoon. Light activities might aggravate the pain and fatigue, but prolonged rest might also increase the symptoms. Patients might feel tired even though after an 8 – 10 hours of sleep.
3. Cognitive disturbances
Have difficulties with attention and with tasks that require rapid change in thoughts.
4. Other symptoms
Anxiety, depression, headaches and migraine, tingling/numbness of extremities (paresthesia) could also be present.
Education on the nature of the illness, reassure patients that fibromyalgia is an actual disorder, introduce proper relaxation techniques and stress reduction program could also be helpful.
2. Exercise program
It is recommended to fibromyalgia patients to undergo 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular training 3x/week. Low impact exercises, yoga, and aquatic therapy maybe a good starting point.
Certain medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia and are currently being prescribed to patients.
4. Psychosocial interventions
Cognitive behavioural therapy offered by a psychiatrist or mental health professionals is also one of the treatment options.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia and the treatment outcomes are often poor. Therefore, clinicians are advised to try their best to limit the triggers and educate patients on how to maintain their quality of life.
Bhargava, J., & Hurley, J. A. (2019). Fibromyalgia.