Fibromyalgia presents as overall tenderness and pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, and soft tissues. It is a common syndrome and a long-term complaint. Its effects include insomnia, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and depression among a broad range of symptoms.
The specific cause of the disorder has not been discovered, but there are clearly identifiable triggers including, but not limited to:
- Trauma, either physical or emotional
- Chronic sleep disturbances
- A virus or other infectious agent
Both men and women suffer from the disorder, which is most common in women ages 20 to 50.
The major symptom of fibromyalgia is pain, with the specific locations described as “tender points.” These may be located in a variety of positions in the soft tissue including, but not limited to, the back of the neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, shins, elbows, and knees.
Typically the pain spreads out or migrates away from the tender points and waxes and wans during the day. Patients report waking up with pain alternately described as “gnawing,” “shooting,” or “burning.” During the day the sensations lessen, but return at night. In some cases, however, the pain is constant.
Almost all patients with fibromyalgia sleep poorly and also experience various digestive issues, cognitive problems with memory and clarity, numbness or tingling in the extremities, heart palpitations, mild to moderate depression, tension, and migraine headaches.
Fibromyalgia Diagnosis and Treatment
An accurate diagnosis of fibromyalgia requires a three-month documented record of pain spread our over many parts of the body not explained by another condition and the coexistence of fatigue, problems with memory or concentration and a variety of bodily complaints including gastrointestinal problems and urinary problems. The older method of diagnosis by counting the number of tender points has been largely discarded.
Treatment focuses on symptom relief and management. Physical therapy and moderate exercise are generally prescribed and often paired with muscle relaxants and antidepressants. Cognitive behavioral therapy gives patients coping skills to successfully live with the condition.
Meet Our Neurologists
At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Dr. Chang and Dr. Jordan treat patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. If you have chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia and need a specialist contact one of them to schedule an appointment 310-829-5968.