Fibromyalgia cannot be detected with a blood test and X-ray. The symptoms are decisive. Find out which ones are important!
Chronic pain in various areas, but the doctor can’t find a cause? Those who suffer from fibromyalgia often have to survive a practice odyssey until, with a little luck and sometimes years later, the correct diagnosis is made. It is important to pay attention to the fibromyalgia symptoms , because blood tests and the like unfortunately say little.
Fibromyalgia: Watching the Symptoms
The problem with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS for short) is that common diagnostic methods such as X-rays, MRI and laboratory tests can only rule out that it is rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. None of these tests provide any evidence of chronic fiber-muscle pain, another name for fibromyalgia. The only clues then are the symptoms. And they can turn out very differently.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia range from pain to a depressed mood
The 13 main signs of the syndrome are:
- Chronic pain, usually for months and in different parts of the body. The back, neck, chest and the joints of the arms, hands, legs and feet are particularly affected . The pain is usually felt as dull and burning.
- Not only do joints hurt, but muscles too. There is tension and pain that feels similar to severe muscle soreness.
- Increased sensitivity to pressure in certain parts of the body, the 18 so-called tender points. These are special diagnostic points that are often found where tendons attach to muscles. If the tenderness to tenderness is increased in at least eleven of these points, this substantiates the suspicion of fibromyalgia.
- Exhaustion, poor concentration and constant tiredness
- sleep disorders
- a headache
- Morning stiffness of the joints
- Circulatory problems
- Irritable bowel syndrome (abdominal pain, intestinal cramps, alternating diarrhea and constipation )
- Irritable bladder (pressure on the bladder, frequent urination)
- dry, sensitive skin, dry mucous membranes
- Hypersensitivity to cold, light, noise
- psychological problems such as fears, restlessness or depressive moods
Disorders of pain processing as a possible cause of fibromyalgia
Research has not yet found out why muscles and joints hurt and why there is general hypersensitivity. It is assumed that the processing of pain in the brain reacts too strongly. Stimuli that are usually hardly painful lead to marked pain in patients with fibromyalgia.
Among other things, hormonal changes are suspected. In fibromyalgia patients, for example, it was possible to determine on the basis of studies that messenger substances are out of balance.
Many people who are not affected think – also because the disease is so little researched and understood – that patients only imagine the pain and fibromyalgia symptoms. However, it is actually felt pain.
The treatment of fibromyalgia: these therapy modules are there
Fibromyalgia is still not curable today. However, if the treatment starts early, the pain disappears permanently in every second patient. Movement in particular can help many, because many patients suffer from high muscle tension, which in turn leads to greater pain, as certain movements that are painful are avoided. But movement also brings about relaxation of the muscles.
The treatment of fibromyalgia includes the following measures:
- Endurance training : brisk walks, Nordic walking or cycling, three times a week for at least 30 minutes
- Functional training : gymnastics or water aerobics to specifically strengthen joints and muscles
- Relaxation training
- Behavioral therapy to learn how to better manage the pain
- Medicines : temporary antidepressants; Painkillers are better not, as the German Interdisciplinary Association for Pain Therapy (DIVS) emphasizes in its current guidelines for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
- Vegetarian diet for fibromyalgia : Patients report that avoiding meat and sausage relieves their symptoms.
Why pain killers don’t help
Although fibromyalgia patients mainly suffer from pain, the use of classic painkillers is not recommended – also because they cannot work properly and in the worst case can be addictive. Because the cause of FMS are not inflammatory reactions, for which pain relievers such as ibuprofen are tailored. And caution is advised with painkillers with opioids, because they can quickly become addictive. The guideline on fibromyalgia for patients of the German Pain Society provides a further overview.
In Germany, around three to four percent of the population is affected by fibromyalgia , most of them are women. However, the number of unreported cases is probably much higher because the diagnosis is based solely on the symptoms and there is no reliable test for the pain disorder to date.
Not long accepted as a disease
More and more attempts are being made to bring the disease into the limelight. Lady Gaga is also committed to ensuring that more understanding is finally applied. The artist suffers from fibromyalgia herself – and recently spoke to Vogue about it:
For a long time, the problem was that “soft tissue rheumatism”, as fibromyalgia was long known, had not been recognized as a disease for a long time, because diagnosis was just as difficult. Affected people were decried as “simulators”, which hit the psyche even more. Similar behavior was and still is in mental illnesses such as depression or burnout syndrome. But now there are studies and a lot of reliable data – fibromyalgia is accepted as a disease with a very high level of suffering.