Fibromyalgia is a complex and debilitating chronic pain disorder. It involves global muscle pain and stiffness, with painful areas often “moving around”. Commonly it is coupled with Chronic Fatigue type symptoms. It is also commonly misdiagnosed when people have multiple painful areas and Physio’s/Doctors label a person with it as a way of putting them in the “too hard basket”.
***Update*** Since 1994 some groups of researchers have been questioning the validity of the “trigger point” as a physical entity. This focal point of muscular spasm has so far not been conclusively demonstrated to exist by ultrasound imaging, MRI, electromyography, biopsy or even expert opinion. If we can not reliably prove they exist, then how can Fibromyalgia, which is diagnosed by trigger point palpation, be a definable entity either? Rather, we agree that there are tender spots, which can be palpated. We agree there are regions of chronically tightened muscle, and we agree this is often coupled with gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbance and other symptoms. This collection of symptoms has also been observed in other animal populations to be the result of an environmental stressor that is not effectively dealt with by the animal’s system, and so the “fight or flight” responses that the body has to stress become effectively switched on and stuck. This causes muscle tightness, increased neuroimmune sensitivity, pain, gut problems, sleep disturbance etc. . . . sound like anything else we know?
Sufferers have often run the gamut of medical treatments and therapies, with no real relief. Education about the physiological basis of pain, and treating the way people deal with pain can be very useful, coupled with advice on avoiding triggers, gradually progressing appropriate strengthening exercises, and learning to accept and “live with the pain” can often paradoxically decrease its effect on your life, and even result in periods of remission.
Consultation with your doctor, referral to a Rheumatologist, or assessment by a qualified Physiotherapist can help you get on the right path to good self management of this condition.