Fibromyalgia (page 2)
There's a lot of disagreement among doctors when it comes to fibromyalgia. Theories differ as to what causes it and how best to treat it. There's even disagreement about what to call it — some call it a syndrome, others a disorder, still others a chronic condition.
Whatever you label it, and whatever its origins, fibromyalgia presents a very real challenge to those coping with its symptoms each day.
Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions in America, affecting an estimated 5 million people and often running in families. It's far more common in females than males and can start when kids are in their teen years or even younger, although it's most common in women between the ages of 20 and 50.
Fibromyalgia (say "fy-bro-my-AL-ja") is a long-term, or chronic, syndrome that causes widespread pain in the muscles, joints, and other soft tissues of the body. The term "fibromyalgia" comes from the Latin word "fibro" for fibrous tissue, and the Greek "myo" for muscle, and "algos" meaning pain. In kids, it is sometimes referred to as juvenile primary fibromyalgia syndrome.
The pain of fibromyalgia is often accompanied by isolated tender or sore areas, fatigue, poor sleep, headaches, and other symptoms. Fibromyalgia is often considered a syndrome rather than a disease because it's a collection of symptoms that seem to be related but, unlike a disease, there's no cause that can be identified.
Although fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, its symptoms typically come and go. They can be mild at times, then so severe at others that they interfere with normal activities. Many kids with fibromyalgia can attend school regularly, but their abilities vary depending upon the severity of their symptoms.
Treatment for fibromyalgia focuses on managing the pain and other symptoms and generally consists of a combination of medications and lifestyle changes, such as exercise, relaxation, and stress-management techniques. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but treatment has been shown to improve the quality of life for those who have it.
Most kids with fibromyalgia complain of widespread muscle pain, usually a dull or burning kind, but sometimes more of a shooting or throbbing pain. Widespread means the pain occurs on both sides of the body, above and below the waist; it can range from mild to severe.
Usually, someone with fibromyalgia will also have a number of tender spots, places where he or she feels pain if the spot is pressed. Common tender spots include the back of the head, between the shoulder blades, shoulders, chest, neck, hips, knees, and elbows.
Fatigue is another common complaint of kids with fibromyalgia. Because of this, fibromyalgia can mimic the symptoms of a similar condition called chronic fatigue syndrome. Sometimes, a person can have both conditions, but they are separate syndromes.
Fibromyalgia also usually causes sleeping problems that make getting a good night's sleep difficult. Some kids may have other sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea. Poor sleep can also lead to waking up with body aches and stiffness that may improve during the day, then get worse at night.
Additional symptoms of fibromyalgia can include:
- gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome
- problems with memory or concentration
People with fibromyalgia often notice a variety of external factors that can make their symptoms worse, from emotional stress to cold, damp weather.
Doctors aren't really sure what causes fibromyalgia, but most agree that the brains of people who have it perceive pain differently. For some reason, they experience pain in response to stimuli that aren't normally perceived as painful by others.
Some cases of fibromyalgia seem to be triggered by an event — like an infection or illness, physical injury, or emotional upset. Genetic factors also might play a role. Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, so it's possible that having a genetic mutation may increase someone's risk of developing the condition.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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