Could you be suffering with fibromyalgia syndrome?

Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a condition that causes chronic pain, stiffness and fatigue across the entire body. Although anyone can develop it, women are seven times more likely to develop the syndrome than men. The cause of fibromyalgia is unclear but it is thought to be a neurosensory disorder that affects the way the central nervous system responds to painful stimuli. This creates a higher sensitivity to pain compared to those who do not suffer with the disorder. 

It has also been suggested that the syndrome may overlap with other health conditions such as anxiety, depression, Lupus, chronic hepatitis C infection and rheumatoid arthritis. Some specialists say the cause of fibromyalgia may be genetic and related to the genes inherited from our parents as it appears to run in families. Contrasting all of the above, the condition has also been said to develop in those who may be triggered by an emotionally or physically stressful event such as childbirth, having an operation, an injury or infection, the breakdown of a relationship or the death of a loved one.

There are many symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, these include:

  • Widespread pain
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • “Fibro-fog” – problems with memory, concentration and other cognitive related issues
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Vision problems
  • Trouble balancing
  • Painful menstrual cycles
  • Shortness of breath
  • Jaw pain
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Sensitive to odors, lights, foods or medications

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may be suffering with fibromyalgia, contact your GP. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the syndrome but there are various treatments available that can ease symptoms such as:

  • Antidepressants – these are used to alter the chemicals in the brain and therefore help control pain levels and relax muscles
  • Painkillers
  • Fatigue medication
  • Exercise
  • Talking therapies – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counselling
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture or acupressure 
  • Massage therapy
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques

The syndrome is notoriously difficult to diagnose and is often misdiagnosed so it is important to pay close attention to your symptoms. If your GP thinks you might have fibromyalgia they will use a ruling out system to diagnose the condition. This is done by ruling out other conditions that have similar symptoms, these other health conditions could be:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis

Fibromyalgia is a physically, emotionally and mentally distressing condition to live with. If you are suffering from this long-term health condition, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are various charities and support networks available to help you cope such as Fibromyalgia Action UK and UK Fibromyalgia. You can also find more in depth information about the disorder on the NHS website. At Enfield Osteo Clinic, we will also do our utmost to offer our support and ease the pain of anyone suffering from this unpleasant condition.

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