Fibromyalgia, also referred to as ‘soft tissue rheumatism’ or ‘polymyalgia rheumatica’ (PMR), is a disorder where complaints arise from muscles, tendons and ligaments. Fibromyalgia affects people in different ways. In some patients it can take toll on everyday life while for others the effects are less severe.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia
The symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Pain (stinging, burning or aching) affecting various areas in the body, such as the neck, back or legs.
- Weakness of the muscles or reduced ability to perform specific movements.
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting.
- Tingling or heaviness in the limbs.
- Sleep problems.
- Depression, mood swings.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder. The condition may settle down or get worse in time, but it usually continues long term. How the disorder progresses varies from person to person.
Causes of fibromyalgia
What causes fibromyalgia is unknown. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose and cannot be diagnosed with blood tests or samples of muscle or bone tissue. Diagnosis is based on patient history and often requires doctors to rule out other similar conditions.
Treatment of fibromyalgia
While there’s no cure, a lot can be done to improve the pain symptoms. If regular pain medication does not help, the doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or stronger painkillers. If sleep disturbance is a major problem, sleeping tablets may be helpful. Antidepressants can be effective to relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia in some patients. If you are considering taking an antidepressant, always be sure to consult a doctor first. In addition to medication, patients are encouraged to do regular exercises to improve and maintain physical fitness. Being physically active also helps to reduce sleep problems and depression. A doctor or physiotherapist can provide exercise advice tailored to your individual needs.