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Do you have constant aches and pains that just don’t seem to go away? Are you tired all the time? Do you feel like there is something seriously wrong with you, but the doctors keep coming up short of any diagnosis? If so, you could be suffering from one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose, Fibromyalgia. There are no lab tests or imaging techniques, such as X-Ray or MRI, that can identify this disorder. Not only that, but the symptoms of Fibromyalgia are similar to those of many other diseases. On average, it takes about 5 years for a fibromyalgia patient to receive a proper diagnosis.
What is Fibromyalgia, you ask? Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder, which means that the symptoms are present and consistent for a long period of time. For patients with this disease there are good days when the symptoms are less severe, and bad days when they are worse. The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain in the muscles, joints and tendons that spreads throughout the entire body. Many sufferers describe the pain as a deep ache within the muscles that gets worse with strenuous exercise. The pain can be throbbing, shooting or burning and it may radiate from tender points. Pain is worse in the muscles that are used more frequently, like the hands, feet and legs and may cause stiffness in the joints. Some patients report that the pain is worse when they wake up, gets better during the day and then worsens again in the evening.
If you speak to a patient with fibromyalgia, they will explain their “trigger points,” or tender points, that become very painful with just a small amount of pressure. Pressure on a tender point may also cause pain in areas of the body that are far away from the point itself. There are 9 trigger points that are often associated with fibromyalgia:
- Both sides of the back of the head - Both sides of the neck - Top of each shoulder - Shoulder blades - Both sides of the upper chest - Outside of each elbow - Both sides of the hips - Buttocks - Inside of the knees
Patients with fibromyalgia also reported suffering from difficulty sleeping, feeling more depressed and having more anxiety and forgetfulness.
New ways of diagnosing patients with fibromyalgia are on the rise. There is no cure for fibromyalgia and most patients find ways to live with the pain on their own. Most patients have to take on a new lifestyle. It is recommended to get plenty of gentle exercise, find ways to reduce stress, eat healthy and try to develop regular sleeping patterns. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to treat your fibromyalgia symptoms and don’t let the disease keep you from doing the things you love every day!