The patient went out of her way to avoid situations where someone might bump into her. She described her body aches as feeling as those she had a bruise all over her entire body.
Rebecca, 52, has been living with this chronic type of pain for more than 30 years. After struggling without proper treatment, she took charge of her disease and sought alternative therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation to achieve pain control. In the past she described her pain as a nine or a ten but now she says it’s a one or a two. She has written a book to help others who are like her, Beyond Chronic Pain: A Get-Well Guidebook to Soothe the Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Rebecca has fibromyalgia. Most people have aches and pains and stiffness from time to time, but as they age, many simply attribute it to arthritis or just “getting old. ” If residents in assisted living homes complain frequently about having muscle pain, the healthcare staff may suggest a check up by their physician. The staff will also talk with those responsible for the facility exercise program and determine if a different approach is needed to help alleviate the pain.
The condition of Fibromyalgia is described as widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues above and below the waist and on both sides of the body. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome or set of symptoms that happen together but do not have a known cause. In this syndrome, the nervous system comprised of nerves, the spinal cord, and brain, is not able to control what it feels, so ordinary feelings from muscles, joints, and soft tissues are experienced as pain. People with Fibromyalgia feel pain and/or tenderness even when there is no injury or inflammation.
Less common symptoms include headaches, morning stiffness, trouble concentrating, and irritable bowel syndrome. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, it is common for people with Fibromyalgia to have anxiety and depression. Having Fibromyalgia does not harm the muscles, joints, or organs, but untreated, the symptoms of chronic pain can affect lifestyle and one’s ability to participate in normal daily activities. Fibromyalgia can also cause sleep problems and fatigue.
Theories on the cause Fibromyalgia
Although there are several theories on the cause, there is not enough evidence to support any single argument. Some experts think that people with Fibromyalgia may have nerve cells that are hypersensitive. Others believe that chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters may be out of balance. One theory is that it may be related to problems with the deep phase of sleep. Stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle are considered deep phase and shorten dramatically in older people causing them to get less total deep sleep than younger people do.
How is Fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose Fibromyalgia based on two things. One is widespread pain, which means the pain is on both sides of your body above and below the waist. The other is tenderness in at least 11 of 18 trigger points when they are pressed. A doctor will generally take steps to be certain other conditions that cause similar pain are ruled out. Conditions with comparable symptoms are rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
What are the Treatment options?
Controlling symptoms can be accomplished with regular exercise and by finding better ways to handle stress. Good sleep habits are also very important. Changes to routine, schedule, and sleep environment can help. Counseling can improve coping skills to deal with chronic pain. Symptoms of depression, such as a loss of interest in things usually enjoyed or changes in eating and sleeping habits can often be successfully treated with medication prescribed by a physician.
Complimentary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques may also help relieve symptoms. There is currently no cure for the long lasting and chronic condition. Many sufferers report that symptoms often come and go and after particularly painful episodes, the condition seems to go into remission. Others find that their symptoms worsen in cold and damp weather, during times of stress, or when they over exert themselves.
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