Understanding Fibromyalgia Disability

Fibromyalgia and its Disbaility

Very often misdiagnosed and misunderstood, after osteoarthritis, the second most common musculoskeletal condition that affects a lot of people is fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia disability occurs in the form of joint pain, fatigue and widespread muscle pain along with other disability-like symptoms. Depression and social isolation are the direct implications of fibromyalgia disability.

A syndrome is a set of symptoms that exist together and they point towards the presence of a specific disease or an increased chance of the disease developing in the system. The following symptoms occur in the case of fibromyalgia syndrome:

  • Social anxiety
  • Sensitive tender points
  • Depression
  • Widespread pain
  • Decreased pain threshold
  • Debilitating fatigue

It has also been noted that women are ten times more likely to contract this disease as compared to men, usually between the ages of 25 to 60 years. While over 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Disability

A constant ache all over the body is the most common symptom of fibromyalgia that occurs with other symptoms of crippling fatigue. Feeling fatigued even after a whole night’s sleep is one of the most common symptoms. Deep and restful sleep cycles may also be punctuated by disturbances because of mood swings and occurrence of specific tender points on the body that may be painful to touch is also common. Another common indication of fibromyalgia is unexplained depression.

Talking about muscles, it feels like the muscles are pulled or overworked even without any strenuous exercise. Muscles may also experience stabbing deep pains, burns or twitching. Achiness and pains around the back, shoulders, necks, joints and hips that makes it difficult to exercise or sleep is also experienced by some people suffering from fibromyalgia. Some other symptoms that can be considered common to a lot of problems but are indicative of fibromyalgia are:

  • Dryness in eyes, mouth and nose
  • Hypersensitivity to cold or heat or both
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic headaches
  • Incontinence
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in feet and fingers
  • Fibro fog or inability to concentrate
  • Overall Stiffness

The signs of fibromyalgia are similar to those of osteoarthritis, tendinitis and bursitis, which often has experts classifying it under a type of arthritis and its related disorders. As the pain is localized in other disorders like tendinitis and bursitis, the pain and stiffness in fibromyalgia is widespread and not centered.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia Disability

To make an accurate diagnosis about fibromyalgia, a comprehensive physical exam and medical history is required of the patient. Specific blood tests may suggested by the doctor to rule out other treatable or more serious illnesses and disorders. A complete blood count or CBC test is required, blood chemistry to mark out levels of different enzymes, nutrients and calcium in the blood may be required. A thyroid test is done to rule out the problem since an underactive thyroid often causes fatigue like symptoms similar to fibromyalgia.

Tests for rheumatoid factor (RF), Lyme titers, erythrocyte or red blood cell sedimentation rate, calcium levels, antinuclear antibodies ANA and vitamin D levels and other laboratory tests that are usually done to rule out serious illnesses.

The American College of Rheumatology has put in place a diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia syndrome and fibromyalgia disability. Most doctors follow the guidelines to see if the symptoms match with the given criteria. A persistent widespread pain for a period of 3 months or more is included in this criteria and can refer to pain on both left and right sides of the body, including the mid and lower back, chest, sides, neck etc. Tender points of the body formerly used to diagnose fibromyalgia are also an important factor.

Other related symptoms like sleep disturbances, mood disorders and fatigue that can help measure the impact fibromyalgia disorder has on the emotional and physical functioning of the patient needs to be evaluated by the doctor to check the severity.

Treatment for Fibromyalgia Disability

Fibromyalgia has no cute yet. There is also no comprehensive treatment that helps handle all the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This often difficult syndrome is usually dealt with by combining different treatments both traditional and alternative to effectively manage the disorder. A combination of exercises and medications that help with aerobic conditioning and strengthening along with behavioral techniques may be required.

Drugs to Treat Fibromyalgia

In case of fibromyalgia, drugs usually only treat the symptoms, as stated by the American College of Rheumatology. FDA has approved  anumber of medicaitons for effective fibromyalgia disability treatment. Opioid pain drugs are usually avoided as they can cause drug dependency issues in the long run. A class of drugs referred to as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) also have proven effective.

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