Why Is Fibromyalgia So Painful?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and tender points on muscles. Although the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, there appear to be several factors that may contribute to it. In addition to lifestyle changes and physical therapy, recently FDA approved medications appear to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia for some people. Greater Austin Pain Center understands how complicated a fibromyalgia diagnosis can be, and we take all the appropriate steps to helping patients manage it.
Fibromyalgia is distinguished by points of pain and tenderness across the body. There are 18 of these tender points, distributed in nine laterally symmetrical pairs.
The location of these points are as follows:
- Front lower sides of the neck
- Upper chest
- Inner elbows
- Slightly above the inner knees
- Base of the skull
- Base of the neck/top of the shoulders
- Upper back/shoulder blades
- Upper buttocks
- Hip bones
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The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Theories for triggering causes include:
- Hereditary factors
- Changes in weather
- Physical activity
- Widespread pain originating from the muscles, often worse in the morning
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood disturbances/anxiety
- Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing (“fibro fog”)
Fibromyalgia Treatment in Austin, Texas
There is unfortunately no specific test for fibromyalgia. It is considered a “diagnosis of exclusion,” meaning all other causes of the symptoms should be ruled out. A doctor can diagnose fibromyalgia by reviewing your medical history, examining you, and considering your list of symptoms. When seeing Greater Austin Pain Center specialists about potential fibromyalgia, it is helpful to bring a written history of your symptoms.
Your doctor may conduct blood tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. A diagnosis of fibromyalgia requires pain or tenderness reported at a minimum of 11 of the 18 tender point locations, with symptoms enduring for 3 months or longer.
Fibromyalgia is considered a “diagnosis of exclusion,” meaning all other causes of the symptoms should be ruled out.
Relaxation and lifestyle changes can make symptoms of mild fibromyalgia better. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, patient education, support groups, and counseling. Regular exercise, pacing activities throughout the day, eating a balanced diet, and good sleep habits can help as well.
In recent years, researchers have made several breakthroughs with prescription medications to ease symptoms of fibromyalgia. Low doses of certain antidepressant medications and anti-inflammatory medications appear to help certain people. Since 2007, the Federal Drug Administration has approved the prescription medications Lyrica®, Cymbalta®, and Savella® for the treatment of fibromyalgia, and more studies are underway.
Our doctors at Greater Austin Pain Center offer several treatment options, including trigger point injections, platelet rich plasma injections, and steroid injections. Learn more about our procedures and treatment options.
Am I At Risk?
Fibromyalgia develops most frequently in people between the ages of 20 and 50, although it can occur at any age, including during childhood. The risk of developing fibromyalgia appears to increase with age, and it occurs more often in women than in men. People with fibromyalgia have a tendency to develop other conditions as well, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, endometriosis, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lupus, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you are suffering from chronic, unexplained pain that seems to stem from certain target areas within your body, please reach out to us. Greater Austin Pain Center has expertise in dealing with fibromyalgia, and we’re eager to help you find answers. While it is a frustrating condition, we can work with you to keep fibromyalgia from interfering with your life.