Fibromyalia was recognized as a disorder in the 90’s. Since then, several have thought it to be a somatic disorder. On other words, patients suffer from symptoms without a physical cause. The most recent studies indicate that the cause is neurological. More specifically, it results from central nervous system imbalances.
Who does fibromyagia affect?
Fibromyalgia disorder affects between 2-5% of the population. More instances occur in countries like Italy, Germany, Portugal and Spain. The biggest at-risk group of suffering this disorder are mainly women. In fact, women are 10 times more likely to be affected than men. High risk groups also include:
- People with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Patients with auto-immune diseases.
- People ranging in their 20-50s.
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Main causing agent
Fibromyalgia disorder seems to be related with changes in the central nervous system. However, the causing mechanism in its entirety remains unknown. Also, possible causes include neuro-hormonal changes, genetic factors and surrounding factors like diet or stress.
The main causes are overactive and oversensitive nociceptive pathways in the central nervous system. In other words, this is central sensitization. And, sensitization usually results in repetitive, painful stimulation. Unfortunately, this as a can lead to more pain.
- Muscle rigidness.
- Sleep disorders.
- Paroxysmal movements.
- Tiredness and extreme fatigue.
- Increase in touch sensitivity.
- Unspecific, intense musculoskeletal.
- Changes in hearing (tinnitus) and vision (phosphene).
The condition appears more commonly in patients with rheumatic illnesses. For example, this could be rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. Also, it seems to be linked with autoimmune illnesses like systemic lupus erythematosus. In addition, fibromyalgia disorder constitutes a risk factor for Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance.
Most patients that suffer from this condition have difficulty sleeping. Or, they can only achieve restless sleep, which worsens other symptoms. Also, these patients also tend to experience daytime drowsiness and painful night cramps. At the same time, certain mood changes, depression and anxiety crises also sometimes are consequences of fibromyalgia.
Diagnosis and condition criteria
There is no concrete or definitive diagnostic criteria for detecting fibromyalgia disorder. Normally, the diagnosis results from a process of elimination. In other words, in order to reach the diagnosis, all other possible disorders must be discarded as a possibility by the supervising physician.
The lack of specific tests for detecting fibromyalgia disorder hinders the diagnosis. Meanwhile, professionals continue debating if fibromyalgia disorder is an actual disorder or a syndrome. Or, it could result from various symptoms.
In order to diagnosis fibromyalgia, a patient needs to experience at least 11 of the 18 painful pressure points. These pain points aid in the diagnosis because they are most common among patients with this disorder. Overall pain that lasts for at least 3 months is also another diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
However, criteria is very sensitive and specific. For example, over 85% allows it to establish different diagnosis from other rheumatoid diseases. Also, it’s important to mention that a high percentage of those affected don’t receive a diagnosis because of the difficulties that the process presents.
Nutritional therapy and weight-loss strategies constitute one of the today’s most effect treatments for treating fibromyalgia. For example, gluten-free diets have proven effective for treating the symptoms.
And, in relation to drug therapies, various types of antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and muscle relaxers can treat fibromyalgia. Additionally, there are positive results from transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment. This aims to reduce pain considerably. And, it can lead to improved health.