The Basics of Fibromyalgia Treatment in NJ

Fibromyalgia affects 2% of the U.S. adult population, and it is seven more times as common in women than men. This condition is a chronic syndrome that is characterized by fatigue and widespread pain in the joints and muscles. In addition, 17% of arthritis patients also suffer with fibromyalgia, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

There are many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Patients complain of pain all over the body and report many tender point regions on the body. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Morning stiffnessFibromyalgia photo4
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
  • Tingling in the fingers and extremities
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Memory and cognitive issues (fibro fog)
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat

Cause of Fibromyalgia

Experts do not fully understand fibromyalgia, and not much is known about the cause of this syndrome. Scientists do believe that it is associated with genetics, physical trauma, emotional trauma, and/or infections. Researchers of the Mayo Clinic report that it may be due to problems with the autonomic nervous and neuroendocrine systems. Adults with fibromyalgia are more than 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than individuals without the condition.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

To diagnose fibromyalgia, the doctor may use the new FM blood test. This genetic test is costly but quite accurate. Many insurance companies do not cover the test, so the doctor must rely on symptoms to make a fibromyalgia diagnosis. The doctor will take a detailed medical history, conduct a physical examination, and order some laboratory and imaging tests. The tests are done to rule out other causes of pain and symptoms.

Treatment for Fibromyalgia

 

  • Medication – The FDA has approved several drugs to treat fibromyalgia. These include Cymbalta, Savella, Flexiril, Elavil, Lyrica, and Effexor. For some patients, over the counter NSAIDs work for pain, such as Advil or Aleve. For problems sleeping, experts recommend Elavil or Neurontin.fibromyalgia photo2

 

  • Trigger Point Injections – Depending on the sites of pain, the doctor can inject the tender areas with an anesthetic. People with fibromyalgia have an increased sensitivity to pain. In a recent study, researchers found that injecting lidocaine into peripheral tissues (muscles and fat of shoulders and buttocks) helped reduce pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia patients. With this procedure, the doctor inserts a small needle into the tender “trigger point.” This inactivates the trigger point and alleviates pain. Select muscles targeted with this technique include those in the arms, legs, neck, and lower back.

 

  • Acupuncture – This is a traditional Chinese technique that reduces pain. Experts believe that dry needling causes the release of certain brain chemicals that work to decrease painful sensations. When performed correctly, acupuncture is a low-risk procedure that can be used alone or in combination with other regimens.

 

  • Botox – The injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) into painful muscle areas is a new approach to treating the pain associated with fibromyalgia. This medication is used to paralyze the muscle so the tension is reduced, therefore alleviating pain.

 

Resources

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Fibromyalgia. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm

Clauw DJ. Fibromyalgia: update on mechanisms and management. J Clin Rheumatol. Apr 2007;13(2):102-9.