Is fibromyalgia Real or Imagined?

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History of fibromyalgia

Some people believe fibromyalgia is a new condition, nut it has existed for centuries. It was once considered a mental disorder but in the early 1800s, it was classified as a rheumatoid disorder that caused stiffness, pain, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.

Fibromyalgia tender points were discovered in the early 1820s. The condition was initially called fibrositis because many doctors believe pain was caused by inflammation throughout the body. It wasn’t until 1976 that the condition was renamed fibromyalgia. The name was derived from the Latin word “fibro” (fibrosis tissue), and the Greek terms for “myo” (muscle) and “algia” (pain)

In 1990 the American College of Rheumatology established guidelines for diagnosing fibromyalgia. The prescription medication to treat it became available in 2007.

What is fibromyalgia??

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. It’s believed that who have this condition process pain differently, and that the way their brains recognize pain signals makes them overly sensitive to touch and other stimuli.

Living with fibromyalgia can be challenging. You may experience pain and fatigue that interferes with daily activities. But yet your family, friends, and even your doctor may not understand your concerns. Also, some people may not think fibromyalgia is a “real” condition and might believe symptoms are imagined.

Fibromyalgia is a real condition. It’s estimated that 10 million Americans live with it. The disease can affect anyone including children. But it’s more common in adults. And women are diagnosed with fibromyalgia 9 times more than women.

There are many doctors that recognize fibromyalgia, although it cannot be recognized by diagnostic testing. They’ll work with you to find a treatment to reduce your symptoms.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia??

Fibromyalgia is grouped with other arthritis conditions, but it’s important to know fibromyalgia is not a type of arthritis.

Arthritis causes inflammation and affects the joints. Fibromyalgia doesn’t cause inflammation, and it doesn’t damage muscles, joints and tissues.

Widespread pain is one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia. This pain is often felt throughout the entire body and can be triggered by the slightest touch.

Other fibromyalgia symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • headaches
  • widespread pain
  • “fibro fog”, an ability to focus
  • sleep problems, waking up not feeling refreshed
  • abdominal cramping

Treatment for fibromyalgia

There are currently 3 prescription medications approved by the U.S food and drug administration (FDA) to treat pain in fibromyalgia

>>duloxetine (Cymbalta)

>>milnacipran (Savella)

>>pregabalin (Lyrica)

Some people don’t require prescription medication. They’re able to manage pain with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Others have had success with alternatives therapies, such as:

>>massage therapy

>>chiropractic care


Lifestyle changes and remedies have also proven effective. Some suggestions include:

Reduce stress

Stress and anxiety can worsen symptoms of fibromyalgia. Learn stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises and meditation to improve your symptoms.

You can also reduce your stress level by knowing your limitations and learning how to say “NO”. Listen to your body and rest when you’re tired or overwhelmed.

Exercise regularly

Pain associated with fibromyalgia make it difficult to exercise, but staying active is an effective treatment for the disease. However, you don’t have to engage in strenuous activity.

Start slow by doing low-impact aerobics, walking, or swimming. Then slowly increase the intensity and length of your workouts.

Get plenty of sleep

People with fibromyalgia often wake up feeling unrefreshed and have daytime fatigue. Improve your sleep habits may help you get a restful night’s sleep and reduce tiredness.

Some things to try before bedtime include:

>>avoiding caffeine before bed

>>maintaining a cool, comfortable temperature in the room

>>turning off the radio and TV

>>avoiding stimulating activities before bed like exercising and playing video games.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia

There is currently no diagnostic test to confirm fibromyalgia. Doctors diagnose it after ruling out other conditions. Having widespread pain and fatigue doesn’t automatically mean you have fibromyalgia.

A doctor only makes a diagnosis if your symptoms match the criteria established by the American College of Rheumatology. To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia you must have widespread pain and other symptoms that last for 3 months or longer.

Pain typically occurs in the same spot on both sides of the body. Also, people living with fibromyalgia typically have up to 18 tender points over their body that is painful when pressed.

Doctors aren’t required to conduct a tender point’s exam when making a fibromyalgia diagnosis. But your doctor may check these specific points during a physical exam.

Road to diagnosis

Despite there being plenty of resources and information on fibromyalgia, some doctors aren’t as knowledgeable about the condition. After completing a series of tests with no diagnosis, a doctor may wrongly conclude may wrongly conclude that your symptoms are not real, or blame them on depression on stress.

Don’t give up in your search for an answer if a doctor dismisses your symptoms. It sometimes takes on average more than 2 years to receive a proper a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. But you can get an answer more quickly by working with a doctor who understands the condition, like a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist knows how to treat conditions that affects the joints, tissues and muscles.

What is the outlook of fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a real condition that can interfere with daily activities. The condition is also chronic, so once you develop symptoms, they may continue.

The good news is that fibromyalgia doesn’t damage your joints, muscles, or tissues. It is also not life-threatening.

Seek medical attention if you experience widespread pain that lasts for more than three months. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, you can cope with the disease and relieve symptoms.

Article Resources:

  • Fibryomyalgia. (n.d.).
  • History of fibromyalgia. (n.d.).
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, October 1). Fibromyalgia: Test and diagnosis.
  • Questions and answers about fibromyalgia. (2014, July).
  • Read or Imagined
  • What is fibromyalgia. (2014, April 16).

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