According to a Morbidity and Mortality Report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1/5 of the American population is experiencing pain from arthritis. But is your pain really due to arthritis as some are mistakenly told by their doctors? According to a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, millions of Americans may be unaware that their chronic pain is due to fibromyalgia.
To help you understand a little about fibromyalgia, whether you may have it, and what you need to know about it, the following is a summary of 10 fibromyalgia facts gleaned from a number of health resources that can help you identify a serious health condition and what you can do about it.
The Top 10 Fibromyalgia Facts You Need To Know
Fibromyalgia Fact #1: Fibromyalgia is most common in women and most commonly occurs in young to middle-aged adults. However, fibromyalgia can affect anyone regardless of age or sex.
Fibromyalgia Fact #2: The most common complaints experienced by people with fibromyalgia are fatigue, sleep disturbance, non-cardiac chest pain, depression and poor concentration referred to as “fibro fog.”
Fibromyalgia Fact #3: Fibromyalgia affects muscles, joints and tendons that can manifest as aching pain, burning sensations and stiffness. However, these are just a few of the many symptoms of fibromyalgia that can include other less common symptoms such as extreme sensitivity to loud sounds, bright lights, odors and other sensory stimuli.
Fibromyalgia Fact #4: Fibromyalgia is often confused with hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus and polymyalgia rheumatica. Physical trauma, such as a car or motorcycle crash, can trigger fibromyalgia. As many as a quarter of people with fibromyalgia report that they were involved in an accident right before their symptoms began.
Fibromyalgia Fact #5: Fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease that if left untreated, can ultimately kill you. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that can last a long time―in some cases, a lifetime. However, it can be disruptive and debilitating and thereby interfere with your quality of life.
Fibromyalgia Fact #6: To diagnose fibromyalgia, doctors should ask about pain in up to 19 different areas of your body. The 19 pain areas used to diagnose fibromyalgia are scattered all over the body. These pain spots are found on the neck, abdomen, arms, chest, back, jaw and other areas.
Fibromyalgia Fact #7: X-rays are not used to diagnose fibromyalgia. In order to diagnose fibromyalgia, a physician must use a process of diagnostic exclusion where all other possible diseases must first be ruled out before your doctor can determine that you have fibromyalgia. Keeping a journal of symptoms may help your doctor diagnose your fibromyalgia more quickly.
Fibromyalgia Fact #8: On average, patients with fibromyalgia usually have to pursue a definitive diagnosis for up to seven years. Diagnosis depends greatly on patients’ explanations of their symptoms as well as their doctor’s training. After seeing your primary care physician, a referral to see a rheumatologist who treats fibromyalgia, as well as other diseases of the joints and soft tissues, including arthritis and autoimmune diseases is recommended. Neurologists and pain specialists are also specialists who can diagnose and treat fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Fact #9: Some prescription medications approved to treat fibromyalgia may ease sensory overload; however, medicine is not the only treatment for fibromyalgia—often, sleep aids, psychological counseling, exercise, yoga, and alternative treatments are also recommended.
Fibromyalgia Fact #10: Maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and practicing stress-relief exercises may help you avoid fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia has many potential triggers, and no two people have the same exact ones. Possible triggers include: cold weather and drafty environments, hormonal fluctuations, psychological stress and exercising too hard. The good news is that sex has been found to actually improve fibromyalgia symptoms by reducing stress and providing low-impact exercise.