FOCUS ON HEALTH
By Dr. Virginia Nsitem
Do you find yourself feeling fatigued, sore all over, and moody? Have your symptoms persisted for three or more months? Have you experienced a recent trauma, illness, or stressful period in your life? This article will discuss the chronic pain disorder known as fibromyalgia.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that causes muscle pain and tenderness all over the body, poor sleep, fatigue, and mood swings. Typically, if affects middle-aged women, but can affect men and can be found in patients of all ages. Some researchers believe that fibromyalgia increases the pain that you feel by changing the way your brain deals with pain signals, and causing you to feel muscle pain and discomfort everywhere. Researches also believe that genetics, infection, stress, emotional trauma, surgery, physical trauma can play a part in the cause of fibromyalgia.
What are the common symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Typically, fibromyalgia is diagnosed after the symptoms have been present for at least 3 months. Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is difficulty, and often other conditions that can cause similar symptoms have to be ruled out first, before fibromyalgia is diagnosed. Because it is such a complex condition with so many symptoms and varying triggers, it is difficult to diagnose, causing the patient to feel isolated and frustrated.
Patients that complain of fibromyalgia often report:
- Painful and tender points in the muscles on both sides of the body, and affecting the spine, pelvis, arms, and legs
- Poor sleep, and waking up feeling tired
- Extreme fatigue
- Numbness and tingling in the hands
- Poor memory
- Difficulty performing well at work, and often missing frequent days at work due to pain
- Difficulty performing regular daily activities including housework
- Difficulty participating in social and recreational activities
- Sadness, anxiety, and mood swings
- Symptoms that have persisted for at least 3 months or more
Chiropractors specialize in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries of the muscles, joints and nerves. The first step to managing your pain is getting a proper diagnosis. Your chiropractor or health care provider can provide you with a diagnosis after conducting an examination, and reviewing possible ultrasound studies, x-rays, CT scans, or MRI studies. A proper diagnosis is important to rule out potentially more serious conditions that may be causing your pain and symptoms. Your chiropractor may apply firm pressure to specific areas of your body, called tender points, to help confirm the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
- Chiropractic techniques: Manual therapies are used to improve tightness of the muscles and ligaments, and restore proper movement to the spine and limbs. Therapeutic Laser therapy is a useful device that works to reduce inflammation and pain. Heat application can soothe tight muscles and help with flexibility exercises.
- Gentle and Graded Exercises: Stretching, walking, aqua/water therapy, and working out a stationary bike are important physical activities that help improve the fibromyalgia pain and symptoms, and also improve overall fitness.
- Massage therapy and Acupuncture: Studies have shown that these techniques are helpful for providing a pain-relieving effect throughout the body, an anti-inflammatory effect, and a general sense of improved well-being.
- Education: Education on strategies to relax, improve sleep, identify triggers, and pacing of activity are all key parts of the therapy program, and are important for managing fibromyalgia pain and avoiding flare ups of symptoms.
- Referrals: Your physician may refer you to a pain clinic or other specialist to provide additional treatments that may include medication, psychological counseling, and support group therapy.
Stop the Pain … Before the Pain Stops You!
( Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences in Canada. She may be reached at (905) 275-4993, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org )