What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a painful central nervous system syndrome that occurs mostly in women ages 20 to 50, although it has been known to affect a small percentage of men. It is sometimes known as FMS, or simply FM. Common misspellings also include fibromialgie, fibromalgia, and fybromyalgia.
The pain experienced by fibromyalgia sufferers is both widespread and chronic. Many people experience pain in their muscles, tendons, and joints for extended period of time. However, pain is not the only symptom associated with fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The following is a list of major fibromyalgia symptoms:
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There are also several common places on the body that are sore or painful to people with fibromyalgia. Doctors and specialists refer to these areas of pain/sensitivity as 'tender points.' The following are all tender points fibromyalgia causes:
Tender Points on the Back of the Body
- One point on the left and one point on the right side of the upper back, directly under the base of the skull
- Two points on the left and two points on the right of a person's upper shoulder blades
- One point on the left side and one point on the right side of the lower back near the base of the spine
- One point on the outside back thigh of the right leg and the same on the left leg
Tender Points on the Front of the Body
- One point on the right side and one point on the left side of the lower neck just above the collar bone
- One point on the right and one point on the left of the upper chest cavity just below the collar bone
- One point on the inside of the elbows of both right and left inner arm
- One point of the inner knee of both right and left leg.
Evaluating these tender points is the most straightforward way a doctor can distinguish between a patient suffering from fibromyalgia and other conditions.
Studies have also show that the brain patterns and structure of patients with fibromyalgia are different than those of healthy people. Levels of dopamine are lower in patients with fibromyalgia, and there are deficient growth hormone secretions as well. Most FMS patients suffer from abnormal serotonin levels too, and high levels of cortisol are also found in their systems. These issues may be part of the reason why fibromyalgia causes depression in many patients.
In addition, severe stress is thought to be a main trigger of fibromyalgia symptoms. Studies have also suggested that many patients suffering from this syndrome have experienced past traumatic stress, often related to childhood.
How Can Fibromyalgia Cause Back Pain?
There are eight tender points on the back, making it possible for almost the entire back to be affected by fibromyalgia. As a result, it is not unusual for someone suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms to experience significant back pain and sensitivity.
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Fibromyalgia is treated in several ways, most of which involve a combination of behavioral therapy and muscle relaxants. There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but with pain management and psychotherapy, symptoms can lessen or even cease.
Self-diagnosis of FMS is virtually impossible and never advisable. A patient must have pain and tenderness in more than half of the known tender points to be diagnosed with FMS. A doctor must also perform blood tests and further examinations before confirming the diagnosis or advising fibromyalgia treatment.
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or chronic back pain, contact your doctor to see if FMS could be the reason for your back pain.
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