Fibromyalgia is becoming a very common diagnosis for sufferers of widespread pain. It is the second most common condition after osteoarthritis. Fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed as it shows no pathology in blood tests, x-rays, etc. In the medical industry, professionals do not believe Fibromyalgia is a condition, and they often tell this to patients. Some professionals would even tell patients that their symptoms are all in their heads. The main symptom of Fibromyalgia is a widespread muscle and joint pain; fatigue, exhaustion, and depression are also commonly reported symptoms.
This information about Fibromyalgia covers symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and the impact Fibromyalgia has on our lives. Patients are affected in different ways; one person’s symptoms are rarely the same as another. For some patients, they may see flare-ups of the condition, particularly if they overdo things or during times of increased stress. Others will find the condition very debilitating and will struggle with symptoms every day. The strain of the condition can lead to reduced working hours, reduced earnings, and even loss of a job. Many employers do not understand the condition; others will understand and make ‘reasonable adjustments’ where possible.
Fibromyalgia is also known as a syndrome, and many medical professionals refer to it as FMS (Fibromyalgia Syndrome). To explain Fibromyalgia, we need to split the word in two. Fibro refers to the Fibrous Tissues (muscles), Myalgia refers to pain. Fibromyalgia often includes the following symptoms:
Differential diagnosis could be Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Some people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia also suffer from ME/CFS. Another differential diagnosis is Polymyalgia Rheumatica; patients often recover after a course of steroids.
There is no known cure for Fibromyalgia. Treatment available focuses on helping patients live with the condition. The first stage is to visit your GP. They will look for a pathological cause of your symptoms by ordering a blood test. In some instances, the medical professional may want to refer you to a Rheumatology Specialist. Alternatively, they may try referring you to a physiotherapist and try pain medications first. The healthcare professional will examine you and ask about your symptoms. They may refer you for further tests to rule out other causes for your symptoms. Upon receiving your Fibromyalgia diagnosis, the healthcare professional will inform your GP. Your GP will decide the next step and will discuss medication. Different medications work for different people in different ways. You may receive a referral to a Pain Clinic in your area. Different treatments are available on the NHS dependent on the area in which you live.
There is life after a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. It will be a different kind of life, but with support from your family, friends, and the Fibromyalgia Community, you can still have a good quality of life. Hopefully you can learn to smile and laugh again!
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