Definition and causes of Fibromyalgia
It has not yet been possible to prove a direct cause of the disease. But it is believed that patients have a altered pain threshold in the muscles and brain. The muscles have reduced strength and endurance, and there may be a reduced blood flow in the affected muscles. The volume of the body's own pain-relieving substances called endorphins may be reduced. There are no visible or measurable changes in the muscles or in the blood.
The disease occurs 10 times more often in women than in men, and usually affects persons between 40 and 60 years of age. It is believed that around. 1% of the adult population in western countries has symptoms commensurate with the fibromyalgia diagnosis.
The disease may still be associated with some skepticism among some doctors who, as it has until now been impossible to make a medically based diagnose, believe that the disease is psychological by nature.
The patient group is very variable, and it is therefore believed that the symptoms may have mental overtones in some patients.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
The symptoms are:
Pain in muscles and/or muscle tendons in both body halves, both above and below the navel level. The pains must affect specific muscle points. The duration must be at least three months.
Physical activity worsens the condition.
Besides, the following may be experienced:
Diagnosis of fibromyalgia
The diagnosis is made by the doctor from the above-mentioned disease criteria. However, it may be difficult to determine whether the symptoms are of psychological or other background. Patients with certain rheumatic diseases will also meet the criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The condition is also known as Chronic Widespread Pain CWP) and was earlier referred to as Fibrositis.
Treatment of fibromyalgia
The disease is difficult to treat, and the usual pain relieving drugs have no great effect. Various antidepressants have been shown to have beneficial effects, particularly by improving sleep. Physiotherapeutic treatment is of great value, and in particular exercises in warm water basins has good effect.
It is important, wherever possible, to keep to continue work and maintain other social contact.
Outlook and complications of fibromyalgia
People with this disease live as long as normal people, but unfortunately many have to work part time and at worst the condition can lead to early retirement which might may have significant consequences for social life, both at a personal and a financial level.
The intensity of the symptoms can vary at times, but it is a minority who become completely symptom free. It is very important to continue with physiotherapeutic training also during good spells of the disease because the continued training can prolong the symptom free periods.
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