The musculoskeletal system is the largest organ system by weight in the human body. Musculoskeletal pain is among the leading reasons for people to visit their doctors. Approximately one-third of these visits are diagnosed as fibromyalgia (FMS) or its subtype myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic debilitating disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disorders, migraines, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
The underlying cause of fibromyalgia is not fully understood, but a high incidence exists in the human population. The acceptance and awareness of this complex disorder has generated the need for more research. Currently, complementary therapies in combination with medications manage the pain and dysfunction of fibromyalgia.
Causative risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
- Sex (predominately female)
- Osteoarthritis, RA, or lupus
- Static postures, lack of exercise
- High body mass
- Emotional stress
Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies pain sensations as a consequence of abnormal pain processing within the central nervous system. The brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of pain and become more sensitive to pain signals.
A fibromyalgia diagnosis cannot be confirmed with laboratory tests or X-rays. The American College of Rheumatology provides guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia: Widespread pain defined as pain on both sides of the body above and below the waist for at least three months along with symptoms of extreme fatigue. Other conditions, RA, mental health issues and neurological disorders, are eliminated through a thorough physical and neurological examination.
If a guest is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the DOC orthopedic surgeon and pain management specialist will develop an effective treatment plan. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a multimodal approach combining alternative therapies and medications may help to relieve pain and improve function. Possible treatment therapies include physical therapy, relaxation techniques, yoga, acupuncture, massage, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, muscles relaxants, stem cell therapies, trigger point injections, anti-inflammatories, and other medications.