Fibromyalgia symptoms been mentioned frequently for years, but there has been more discussion recently given the approval of two more medications to treat it with. There are established clinical criteria to diagnose it, which is important since some in the medical community don’t feel it is a real disease, but rather the figment of imagination of the hypochondriac.
Fibromyalgia basically refers to chronic recurrent pain of different areas of the body that is not explained by diagnostic tests such as blood tests and X-rays or scanning. These tests can screen for Rheumatoid Arthritis and other auto-immune diseases such as Lupus, Thyroid disorders and others. Radiological studies can rule out a physical reason such as slipped discs, joint narrowing, etc. Fibromyalgia symptoms are characterized by tender areas to palpation (touch) of several different parts of the body. Common areas include neck, shoulder, upper back, mid-lower back, and legs and arms. Basically the pain can be anywhere throughout the body. The fact that it cannot be seen with standard diagnostic tests is one reason why some doctors and patients don’t take it seriously.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are usually treated by covering up the symptoms with pain pills such as opiates, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants, which is what I refer to as the “Band-aid” method of treatment that is common for a lot of medical conditions. Medications to treat the symptoms are an important part though, since I don’t want my patients to be in pain unnecessarily, so these are appropriate on an as needed basis. As usual, I try to focus on the underlying reasons behind the disease. Regular cardiovascular exercise and stretching are important parts of treatment, since movement of the joints that are in pain helps. A well balanced diet and weight loss when needed are also important. Physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatments can help some.
Preventative medications play a key role for my patients with fibromyalgia symptoms, which balance chemicals in the nervous system when they are out of balance. (See previous blogs or my book with regard to how medications specifically work). The two most key chemicals in pain conditions such as this are norepinephrine (medictaions to consider are Pristiq, Effexor XR name brand or generic, Cymbalta and Savella) and GABA (medications to consider are Topamax, Neurontin/Gabapentin, Lyrica and others). Sometimes a combination of the two classes together is even more effective. I have a high success rate with treating this and other chronic pain symptoms since I combine symptomatic medications, lifestyle changes and proper preventative medications combined optimally. If you or someone you know has this, please make an appointment to discuss it with me.
I encourage all to see the movie Atlas Shrugged starting April 15th. It is my favorite book and had profoundly influenced my life more than any other (along with the Bible). It was voted as the second most influential book of all time (with the Bible being first) by the Library of Congress. It is about hope and change that are both desperately needed at this time in the world.