fibromyalgiaDo you just hurt all over? Or do you ache and tired all the time? Does seemingly light touch make you scream in pain and agony?

If this is you, chances are you’ve tried everything you know to make this physical (and sometimes emotional) pain stop. Your good days are fairly decent but your bad days put you in a state of despair.

You could be dealing with fibromyalgia.

As with a lot of medical conditions that affect women primarily, the medical community was initially split about whether fibromyalgia was a legit diagnosis.

It had a label akin to “it’s all in your head” because the lab and radiological tests would almost always come back normal.

The medical community is more accepting now though. From the front lines I would tell you that the condition is real and is not “just in your head”.

Here is the current thinking on the cause of fibromyalgia

Imagine the body as an electrical circuit with the nerves transmitting the current to the main depot; the brain.

The nerves servicing your muscles transmit messages to your brain all the time. The brain then interprets the signals and lets you know how to respond.

People with fibromyalgia have an abnormally heighten response to pain because their nerves transmits every signal as pain instead of breaking it down into light touch, pressure, temperature or pain.

Light touch or pressure that you would otherwise brush off makes people with fibromyalgia scream and run for the hills.

Is there a test to confirm the presence of fibromyalgia? Not quite.

These three criteria is what is used to diagnose fibromyalgia at the moment

1. Your history of feeling pain all over your body.

2. When a firm pressure is applied to some 18 “trigger” spots around the neck,shoulder, forearm and shins, you feel moderate to intense pain in 11 out of the 18 trigger spots.

3. Otherwise normal lab results. Testing negative to conditions that cause achy joints like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis points to fibromyalgia.

So what are the available treatment options for managing fibromyalgia?

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About the author

Dr. Bola

Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.

3 Comments

  • Just try getting a diagnosis. My doctor told me they only talk about fibromyalgia when they’ve ruled everything out, and strongly implied that it’s what they call it when they can’t think of anything else to account for your pain or state of health. If I have it, it’s not that serious a case and my current pain may have more to do with my bad back at the moment. Still, when I pointed out that the description of the condition as described on the Arthritis Foundation site, my doctor pretty much blew me off with the above statement.

    • Good point there Anne Louise. I have been in the profession long enough to know that the medical community (more often than we care to admit) are the last to “get it”.

      Just in case you are wondering, these are often conditions that affect women primarily. That trend will hopefully change as we have more female representation in medicine.

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