This post is edited by Giovanni Minisola, emeritus president of the Italian Society of Rheumatology
In Italy, at least 2 million people suffer from it, mainly women. The Fibromyalgia is manifested by widespread pain in the muscles, joints and bones. Its symptoms may suggest a joint disease. In fact, fibromyalgia has nothing to do with arthritis and does not cause deformities in the wrists, elbows, knees, fingers or ankles.
The pains associated with fibromyalgia are so intense that often those who suffer from the disorder have the feeling of carrying an unbearable load on themselves. Hence the definition of Atlas disease, the name of the Greek mythological giant rebel against Zeus who was condemned to bear the world on his shoulders.
The symptoms that characterize the disease are:
- generalized pain;
- sleep disorders;
- joint stiffness;
- irritable colon;
- menstrual disorders;
- feeling of swelling in the hands;
Fibromyalgics often also have psychic problems, which involve the affective sphere, and changes in mood.
Those who, like the fibromyalgia subject, live with chronic pain can feel more easily depressed due to the persistence of the symptoms and the difficulty in treating them.
In fibromyalgic patients the pain threshold is reduced due to an alteration in the transmission and perception of painful stimuli in the central nervous system.
Fibromyalgia is sometimes diagnosed late and with difficulty because the symptoms are generic and often similar to those of other diseases, not just rheumatic in nature.
There are many and different factors that can trigger fibromyalgia in a predisposed subject: among these, stressful events, a disease, excessive fatigue of the body and mind, repeated microtraumas on the muscles.
It is the rheumatologist specialist, with the indispensable collaboration of the family doctor, who establishes the most suitable “treatment plan” for each individual person.
Often, a global approach is required to treat fibromyalgia, involving multiple professionals: the rheumatologist, first of all, but also the rehabilitation therapist, the neuropsychiatrist and the psychologist.
In case of fibromyalgia, drugs that decrease pain and improve sleep quality are often, but not always successfully, prescribed.
The drugs that have proven more effective over the years in the treatment of fibromyalgia are antidepressants, muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants. Cortisone is contraindicated.
Exercise programs are often associated with drug treatment to relax and reduce muscle tension.
It is always good to avoid humidity and to perform regular aerobic activity with low or no impact
Physical activity is usually associated with a cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps the patient to live with the disease, understand it and accept it.
In all cases, a good doctor-patient relationship is essential.
The answers to the questions are general and indicative. To get a detailed opinion, we always recommend hearing from your family doctor who knows the general clinical picture of the patient.