Fibromyalgia: Power over pain - The Sumter Item

From theitem.com Published at October 26, 2015 Views 2,279

"It's all in your head."

If you or someone you love has fibromyalgia, you have, no doubt, heard that statement before. Truth be told, it's not completely inaccurate.

Let me explain.

Years ago, doctors thought fibromyalgia was a muscle disease. We studied the muscles looking for inflammation and cell damage. There were no consistent findings. We sent patients for lab tests and scans. That didn't help. We looked for up to 18 tender points throughout a patient's body to make the diagnosis. That didn't work either. Would you believe me if I told you I can diagnose fibromyalgia without even touching a patient? I can.

Doctors know more about what fibromyalgia isn't than what it is. Fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus (although many patients with those diseases also have fibromyalgia). Fibromyalgia has almost nothing to do with muscles. Fibromyalgia is best defined as a neurological disorder of pain processing. Thus, fibromyalgia is in your head - deep within the brain.

During the last decade, functional MRI has shed some light on how fibromyalgia works. fMRI helps scientists see active parts of the brain. Compared to healthy controls, fibromyalgia patients' pain-processing brain areas are more sensitive - interpreting more sensations as pain than normal. This hypersensitivity explains why people with fibromyalgia hurt when other people don't. It also helps doctors and patients understand the problem and look for ways to treat it. Generally speaking, a person is diagnosed with fibromyalgia based simply on their medical history. The defining symptom is widespread pain and tenderness. Other symptoms include feeling tired regardless of sleep, poor concentration, stiffness and pain that gets worse with exercise. Sometimes, illnesses such as cancer, sleep apnea, hormonal problems or inflammatory diseases need to be ruled out. Treating these medical problems if present can improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but the underlying pain hypersensitivity needs to be addressed too.

Read the full article at theitem.com Bullet-go

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