What Is Fibromyalgia?
Roughly 28 million adults in the U.K. suffer from chronic pain, some of whom may be living with a painful condition called fibromyalgia. So what is fibromyalgia, and what can people do to manage their pain?
Characteristics and Diagnosis
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes fatigue and muscle, tendon, and joint pain. It affects around 2 to 5 percent of the population, more often women. Researchers aren’t certain what causes fibromyalgia, though certain illnesses, diseases, injuries, or stressful events may contribute. Rheumatic diseases—including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and osteoarthritis—can increase the risk for fibromyalgia. And though there is no verified hereditary link, fibromyalgia can run in families and some researchers believe a gene may make a person more susceptible to developing it. When it comes to diagnosing fibromyalgia, there is no one definitive test, but lab tests and X-rays can help rule out other conditions.
Common symptoms include:
- Chronic pain
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of weakness
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Fogginess and trouble concentrating
- Increased sensitivity to odours, light, and sounds
- Alternating diarrhoea and constipation
- Irritable or overactive bladder
Though there is no cure for fibromyalgia, certain pain and anti-fatigue medications, exercise, and relaxation techniques can help people manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Some practitioners may recommend alternative therapies such as acupuncture, mindfulness meditation, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which research suggests is an effective tool to help people cope with the pain and negative feelings associated with fibromyalgia.
A large part of fibromyalgia treatment involves making time for self care. Getting enough quality sleep and eating well are both hugely important, as is recognising and reducing stress. While exercise may feel particularly difficult if your whole body is in pain, movement helps stretch muscles, manage stress, and boost mood. Some people may find swimming, water aerobics, and other low-impact forms of movement—such as yoga and tai chi—an effective way to ease fibromyalgia pain.
If you think you are suffering from fibromyalgia, discuss your symptoms with your doctor or specialist. While fibromyalgia is a lifelong condition, it does not have to rule your life. It all comes down to finding the right combination of treatments and lifestyle changes for you.
Here are some of the best places to go to alleviate and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Vana, India I Palacio Estoril, Portugal I Kamalaya, Thailand I Lefay, Italy I SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain