What is fi­bromyal­gia?

Jamaica Gleaner - - GROWTH & JOBS -

ALL OF us have pain from time to time. It helps to tell us when some­thing is wrong so that we can take cor­rec­tive mea­sures. When pain be­comes per­sis­tent, it can re­ally be­come dis­abling. This can hap­pen to some­one with fi­bromyal­gia.

Fi­bromyal­gia is a chronic (long-term and in­cur­able) con­di­tion that causes gen­er­alised pain for no ap­par­ent rea­son. It isn’t known how com­mon this con­di­tion is in Ja­maica, but it is ap­par­ently the se­cond most com­mon mus­cu­loskele­tal prob­lem af­ter os­teoarthri­tis. It is prob­a­bly un­der­diag­nosed and per­sons suf­fer­ing from it may not seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion. It is more com­mon in women than men.

The symp­toms of fi­bromyal­gia in­clude widespread mus­cle and joint pain as well as fa­tigue. This fa­tigue may be present af­ter ad­e­quate sleep. The mus­cles may feel strained, twitch or burn. The joint pains usu­ally in­volve the neck, back, hips and shoul­ders and is nor­mally present on both the left and right sides, and above and below the waist. Other symp­toms in­clude ab­dom­i­nal pain, headache, dry mouth, eyes and nose, lack of con­cen­tra­tion, in­con­ti­nence, hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity to tem­per­a­ture change, numbness in the ex­trem­i­ties and stiff­ness. The symp­toms must be present for at least three months.

Fi­bromyal­gia may be due to in­creased sensitisation to painful stim­uli. It may de­velop sud­denly af­ter phys­i­cal/psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma, surgery or in­fec­tion. It may also de­velop grad­u­ally over time. Fi­bromyal­gia may also be as­so­ci­ated with anx­i­ety/de­pres­sion, me­mory prob­lems, ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, tem­poro-mandibu­lar joint and sleep dis­or­ders. It may run in the fam­ily and is more com­mon in per­sons with lu­pus and rheuma­toid arthri­tis.


Treat­ment of fi­bromyal­gia is a chal­leng­ing task. Pain re­liev­ers such as parac­eta­mol, non­s­teroidal anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibupro­fen and naproxen and tra­madol, may be used but often un­suc­cess­fully. An­tide­pres­sants may also be used. These in­clude amitripty­line, du­lox­e­tine (Cym­balta) and flu­ox­e­tine. Anti-seizure med­i­ca­tions are also used, such as pre­ga­balin and gabapentin.

Non-med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions are also im­por­tant. Keep­ing stress to a min­i­mum is help­ful, but it is im­por­tant to stay ac­tive and en­gaged in so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. Get­ting enough sleep is also ben­e­fi­cial as well as ex­er­cise. Ex­er­cises that aren’t stress­ful on the joints are prefer­able, such as swim­ming, water aer­o­bics, cy­cling and walk­ing. Pro­fes­sional guid­ance may be nec­es­sary. It is ad­vised that those with fi­bromyal­gia eat healthy and limit caf­feine in­take. Some per­sons ben­e­fit from re­lax­ation tech­niques, mas­sage ther­apy, hyp­no­sis, chi­ro­prac­tic treat­ment and acupunc­ture.

This con­di­tion can be very frus­trat­ing and iso­lat­ing and so­cial sup­port is very im­por­tant.

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