Fibromyalgia is a commonly encountered disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and stiffness, a sleep disturbance, and fatigue. Fibromyalgia affects predominantly women in a ratio of 8 or 9 to 1 compared to men. The prevalence of Fibromyalgia in the general population is 3.4% women and 0.5% in men.
The diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is made if the American College of Rheumatology(ACR) guidelines are met. This includes:
- A history of widespread pain. Pain must be on both the right and left sides of the body, above and below the waist and may include cervical spine, chest wall, thoracic and low back pain. Pain must be present greater than 3 months in duration.
- Pain on palpation in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender point sites.
Individuals who have a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia often have other associated conditions. These include migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable, bladder, Raynauds Syndrome, chronic insomnia, dry eyes and mucus membranes and depression. Nonrestorative sleep or awakening unrefreshed has been observed in most patients with Fibromyalgia. Sleep electroencephalographic studies in patients with Fibromyalgia have shown disruption of normal stage 4 sleep. This is the deep non REM sleep that is important.
After a thorough evaluation to rule out other conditions that could mimic or aggravate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia a formal individualized treatment program can be established. Research has supported an interdisciplinary approach that includes a regular individualized exercise program with physical therapy when appropriate, good nutrition, work to correct a sleep disturbance, cognitive behavioral approaches along with medications when necessary and use of some of the alternative medicine approaches such as acupuncture and massage.
Often patients have food sensitivities that may have an impact on their symptoms. Since there is no one diet for all patients with this diagnosis a process of evaluation and education is important. At Healing Choices we recognize that most of the hard work is done by the patient living with this condition and that through proper evaluation, support and guidance by an extended team of practitioners we can help facilitate the process of healing.