From Medicines to Massage, Treatments Can Help Patients Manage Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue. Although its symptoms are similar to other joint diseases, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia is actually a form of soft tissue or muscular rheumatism that causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues.
While the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers believe there may be a link with sleep disturbance; psychological stress; and immune, endocrine or biochemical abnormalities. Fibromyalgia mainly affects the muscles and the points at which the muscles attach to the bone at the ligaments and tendons.
What Are The Symptoms?
Pain is the most common and chronic symptom of fibromyalgia. Pain may begin in one area of the body, such as the neck and shoulders, but eventually the entire body may become affected. The pain ranges from mild to severe and may be described as burning, soreness, stiffness, aching or gnawing pain. Each individual may experience symptoms differently, but other common symptoms include:
- Moderate to severe fatigue,
- Decreased exercise endurance,
- Sleep problems,
- Depressed mood,
- Diarrhea alternating with constipation,
- Abdominal pain,
- Bloating and
- Urinary urgency.
Symptoms may resemble other medical conditions or problems, and there are no laboratory tests that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Instead, diagnosis is usually based on reported symptoms. "While the diagnosis often is made by a rheumatologist, the management of fibromyalgia can involve a multidisciplinary approach including physical therapy, psychiatry and pain management," said Folashade Alade, M.D., expert rheumatologist at MedStar Harbor Hospital's Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center.
Treatments Can Help Curb Pain and Other Problems
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, the disease often can be successfully managed with proper treatment. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory or other medications, exercise and physical therapy to stretch muscles and improve cardiovascular fitness. Other therapies, such as relaxation techniques, heat treatments and massage, have proven helpful for many patients.
Massage can help people with fibromyalgia reduce stress and better cope with their symptoms. Because massage can relax the body and reduce pain, it often helps people with fibromyalgia sleep better.
Studies also have shown that regular massage over several weeks can reduce anxiety and depression. One study found that massage helped fibromyalgia patients by decreasing stress hormones, improving sleep, increasing serotonin, decreasing pain and improving patients' sense of well-being.
Find Pain Relief at MedStar Harbor Hospital
Our experts at the Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center are here for you. We offer leading-edge diagnoses and treatments. Our holistic approach may be just what you've been seeking. For a referral to a MedStar Harbor Hospital rheumatologist call 410-350-2563.