What is Fibromyalgia, symptoms, treatments, cure and more

What is Fibromyalgia?

Also known as Joanina Dognini Syndrome, Fibromyalgia is a rheumatic and chronic syndrome and is characterized by pain throughout the patient’s entire body, even without having had a physical injury to the muscles or joints. It is estimated that about 2% to 3% of Brazilians suffer from the condition in the country and, of these cases, 80% to 90% are women aged between 30 and 50 years.

Regarding its history, the main symptom of the syndrome – diffuse musculoskeletal pain – was already described by Hippocrates, considered as the father of medicine, in the late 400s and early 300s BC, but it was only in 1824 that the association between rheumatism and tender points occurred, through studies by the Scottish physician and botanist John Hutton Balfour. Several descriptions of the syndrome can be found since the mid-19th century, but it was only recognized as such by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the late 1970s.

What are the causes?

There is still no exact and specific cause for the appearance of Fibromyalgia, however studies show that there is a certain relationship between the onset of symptoms soon after a traumatic event, which may be physical, psychological or a serious infection. In most cases, the pain begins at a specific point on the body and is chronic, progressing later to the rest of the body.

Precisely because of this lack of identification of the cause, Fibromyalgia is considered as a syndrome before disease, because it is a set of signs, symptoms and medical problems that tend to occur simultaneously but that are not related to a disease. specific identifiable cause. However, even without knowing exactly the cause of the condition, what cannot be discussed is whether the patient’s pains are real or not. Research shows that people who suffer from Fibromyalgia really feel the pain they describe and that is because repeated stimulation of the nerve that signals pain (neurotransmitter) changes their brain.

In addition, some situations can worsen the pain of those who have the syndrome, such as:

  • Excessive physical effort;
  • Emotional stress;
  • Some infection;
  • Cold exposure;
  • Bad sleep;
  • Trauma.

Risk factors

Anyone can develop Fibromyalgia, but there are some risk factors:

  • Sex: the syndrome affects 8 to 10 times more women than men.
  • Family history: the syndrome is more likely to occur in patients who have close relatives who already have the condition.
  • Rheumatic diseases : some rheumatic diseases can trigger Fibromyalgia, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus erythematosus.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

As stated at the beginning of the article, the characteristic symptom of Fibromyalgia is generalized pain, which is often very difficult to describe, as it is neither strong nor acute and has a duration of about three months. For this pain to be considered generalized, it must occur on both sides of the body – right and left – as well as above and below the waist. Through several studies on the countless pains that characterize the syndrome, 18 sites on the body were found to be the most sensitive to touch and pressure. Check in the image below what are these sensitive points:

In addition to this, which is the main symptom of the syndrome, other symptoms may appear in the patient over time. Are they:

  • Fatigue: usually happens when the person wakes up tired, even after a long night of sleep – this is called “non-restorative sleep”. Many patients suffer from other sleep disorders as well, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
  • Cognitive difficulties: memory can be severely impaired in a patient who has Fibromyalgia. Symptoms such as memory loss, lack of concentration, impaired reasoning and problems with speech are quite common among patients.
  • Other symptoms: in addition to those mentioned, other symptoms can affect the diagnosed patient, such as severe headaches, painful menstrual periods, anxiety and depression.

How is the diagnosis made?

The search for medical help is always recommended, in the case of Fibromyalgia, in cases where the characteristic symptoms of the syndrome extend for more than 3 months. The specialist trained to make the diagnosis, as well as prescribe the proper treatment to the person, is the Rheumatologist, a doctor who treats connective tissue, joint and autoimmune diseases .

Currently, there is no type of examination suitable for the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, so it is done only based on clinical analysis, consisting of clinical history and medical observation, highlighting at least 12 of the 18 most sensitive points of the patient’s body . On the other hand, even with the analysis of the symptoms of the condition, the doctor may order some tests to rule out the hypothesis that the person has other diseases that may show symptoms very similar to those of Fibromyalgia.

Treatment for Fibromyalgia

Just as there is no specific exam for the diagnosis of the syndrome, Fibromyalgia also does not have an exact treatment. Since it has no cure, its treatment is all based on the improvement and control of symptoms, such as: pain relief, sleep improvement, reestablishment of emotional balance, etc.

For the case of this syndrome, treatment can be done through two means: the medicated and the non-pharmacological. It is important to know that the patient’s attitude towards his / her situation is fundamental in the evolution. That is why the importance of understanding what is affecting you and the willpower to help yourself.

Drug treatment

Among the various drugs available on the market, some are approved for use in the treatment of Fibromyalgia and others are not recommended by specialists. Check below which are in each of these groups:

Approved drugs:

  • Antidepressants , especially SSRI and SSRI;
  • Painkillers , including mild opiates;
  • Tramadol ;
  • Muscle relaxants ;
  • Pramipexole ;
  • Tropisetrone;
  • Zopiclona and Zolpidem , both for sleep disorders;
  • Gabapentin ;
  • Pregabalin .

Medicines to avoid:

  • Corticosteroids;
  • Clonazepam ;
  • Tizanidine ;
  • Alprazolam ;
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Attention! 

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Non-pharmacological treatments

In addition to the use of medications duly indicated by the doctor consulted, there are still other ways to improve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia, which you can find out which are below.

Psychological help

About 25% to 50% of patients diagnosed with the syndrome suffer from concomitant psychiatric disorders, which ends up hampering their clinical improvement. That is why it is important for a person to consult with a psychologist or psychiatrist, as this will make it easier to talk about the condition and explain what are the biggest difficulties faced with the help he needs to give himself.

Exercise practice

Regular, low-impact exercise has a lot of weight when it comes to treating Fibromyalgia, as this will keep the muscles conditioned and healthy. The ideal is that these exercises are done every two days during the morning and that they are previously guided by a physiotherapist. Measures such as stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises are also great options.

Have a healthy lifestyle

It is useless to take several medications for the treatment of the condition if the person does not maintain a healthy life. Healthy living is understood as the practice of habits that help the patient both in his physical and psychological state. For that, measures like good nutrition, regulated sleep and stress reduction can help – a lot! – at the time of treatment.

Living with the condition

Once diagnosed, the Fibromyalgia patient needs to know about the condition he will face over the years. Since there is no cure, several measures need to be adapted to your routine and, among them, are:

  • Exercise regularly;
  • Dealing with stress;
  • Dealing with memory gaps;
  • Take care of excess caffeine – especially before bed;
  • Bathing in hot water – they help relax the muscle;
  • Have time for yourself every day;
  • Study ways to make your work better;
  • Talk to people about the condition – this is of paramount importance;
  • Saying no when you need to – knowing how to refuse an invitation in order to feel good is essential;
  • Keep a diary – to find out when the symptoms appear and what possibly triggers them;
  • Participate in a support group;
  • Make your room a pleasant place to sleep.

These and other particular measures will make the person facing Fibromyalgia feel better about themselves and the world around them.

If you know someone who has or who suspects they have the condition, share this article with them. The more people who know this information, the better!

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