What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition which affects nearly 5 million Americans. Fibromyalgia typically goes undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed. The main reason this chronic condition is so difficult to diagnose is that it can be described as pain throughout the body and feeling of exhaustion which can last for months at a time – see the common theme among a long list of other illnesses?

Typically, this disease affects more women than men during middle adulthood. Doctors are unsure how fibromyalgia actually develops, but believe it to be caused by the changes in the way the human brain perceives pain signals, which results in increased sensitivity. Additional theories on development of fibromyalgia include traumatic injury or major surgery on the human body. The disease is fairly “new” in terms of recognition and diagnosis, and research has rapidly been expanding over the past few years. Symptoms may differ from person to person, but pain is felt when pressure is applied to the muscles and joints.Typically there are a few tender areas, specifically the back of the head, neck, upper back, chest, elbows, hips and knees.

Fibromyalgia may also lead to severe headaches, irritable bowels, increased sensitivity to light, smell, taste, and sight. Treatment plans usually include medications, relaxation techniques and changes in lifestyle. This is usually determined by the severity of the patient’s fibromyalgia. Many patients also benefit from consistent exercise and working through the pain. This, of course, requires that the movement be in a controlled and progressive manner as overloading the muscle can cause more pain than anything. There’s typically a “threshold” where patients can work to, but will fatigue very quickly surpassing this point. Diet can also deter or trigger pain for fibromyalgia patients, where some benefit greatly while others can cause a “flare up”.

Ben Glass
Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney