Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic disease that affects the musculoskeletal system. Symptoms vary widely among sufferers, but generally include muscle and joint aches, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and tenderness in several of eighteen specific areas, or “trigger points” on the body.
Fibromyalgia is often overlooked by sufferers as the inevitable result of a busy schedule and everyday stress. When patients do seek treatment, doctors often misdiagnose fibromyalgia as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, or another musculoskeletal condition. It affects women far more often than men, at a ratio of about ten to one. While some cases result from a specific trauma, more often the exact cause is unknown.
The first step to fibromyalgia pain relief is being properly diagnosed. The condition is not completely understood by the medical community, and there is no specific course of treatment. Most advice given to patients reads like a weight-loss program, recommending low-intensity exercise, drinking lots of water, and reducing mental and physical stresses such as those caused by saturated fats, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, meat and sugar.
Anti-depressants are often prescribed as part of the treatment, which elevate the mood of the patient. Muscle relaxants and sleep aids may also be recommended. Since fibromyalgia sufferers are often found to be low in manganese and magnesium, both of which help balance thyroid function, nutritional supplements may prove beneficial as well.
Physical therapy is another essential component for fibromyalgia pain relief, as it teaches patients methods of walking, stretching, and exercise that reduce muscle tension and fatigue. A physical therapist will also teach patients how to make use of ergonomic tools in their daily life, like padded chairs and special keyboards designed to minimize muscle strain.
Some patients choose to incorporate alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage therapy into their treatment. While the efficacy of these natural treatments has not been carefully studied and quantified, testimonials of fibromyalgia sufferers indicate that all of these alternative treatments may help alleviate symptoms of the disease. Whatever patients decide upon, it must be remembered that there is no simple cure for fibromyalgia, and a comprehensive plan that address mental and psychological symptoms and promotes healthy lifestyle habits is the most direct method of obtaining fibromyalgia pain relief.