07 Jan A BABY BOOMERS GUIDE TO FIBROMYALGIA
“It’s just the usual back pain, it’ll go away…” These are common words that many baby boomers suffering from fibromyalgia, have been known to utter. It is terribly convenient to just ignore simple pains and body irregularities rather than to make a big fuss about them. Aside from that, with the busy lives we are living, these minor complaints can be easily countered by handy ibuprofens.
But what happens if these minor problems pile up and become a big chunk of burden you have to live with everyday? You don’t really think that this might happen do you? Bad news is, it actually could, and our physicians call it, Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is considered to be a wide collection of signs and symptoms, called a syndrome, rather than a single disease entity. Its nature is believed to be a long list of pain and abnormal body patterns that progressively worsen. This chronic disease is commonly diagnosed during the baby boomer years, leaving us with a wish that we had attended to our symptoms earlier before the pain became debilitating.
What causes fibromyalgia remains a puzzle; as researchers and doctors try to tie together the tiny jagged pieces to help move closer to fully understanding this painful, life altering condition. The most promising theory to date is called “central sensitization”. It posits that people with fibromyalgia have a lower pain tolerance due to a heightened brain sensitivity to pain signals. Other theories include upper spinal injury, infection, an abnormal autonomic nervous system, and changes in muscle metabolism.
SYMPTOMS and DIAGNOSIS
Symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
Constipation or Diarrhea
Abdominal Pain and Bloating
Headaches and Facial Pain
Getting a doctor to correctly diagnose fibromyalgia can be a long and frustrating process. Because fibromyalgia is a conglomerate of bodily abnormalities, it mimics other diseases and a differential diagnosis has to rule out these other disease possibilities before confirming fibromyalgia. Other similar conditions include: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, sleep apnea, hypothyroidism, and Sjorgen’s syndrome. The mere fact that fibromyalgia can be mistaken for these other conditions is already quite depressing. This is why we need to prepare a truckload of patience and understanding while working with our physician.
PROGNOSIS and TREATMENT
Sadly there remains a highly debatable prognostic outcome. Some studies show that fibromyalgia can be treated with mild success while others pessimistically suggest a lack of significant patient improvement. A reasonably large collective body of evidence concludes that in long term follow ups, none of the patient subject’s remained pain free; that while there is evidence for long term symptom remission in some patients, most patients will relapse and disease signs and symptoms will appear. Two of the most crippling results of fibromyalgia are the withdrawal from or change of work, and the inability to do basic activities of daily living.
Treatment success is greatly affected by the patient’s predisposition. Since fibromyalgia also affects the mind, a positive outlook from the patient is vital to battle and control the pain. Negative emotions pose a greater risk to having a poorer prognosis. Treatment can be pharmacologic (antidepressants, tramadol, zolpidem, etc.), therapeutic (physical therapy machines and exercises), lifestyle modification and alternative medicine treatment (hypnosis, massage therapy, aromatherapy, etc.).
Lifestyle modification is among the most effective treatment options that can contribute to battling the worsening symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A healthy diet along, restful sleep, stress reduction techniques along with daily exercise and pacing activities, can greatly contribute to the improvement of this condition.
Are you experiencing the above stated symptoms of fibromyalgia or have found tips for relief? Talking might help and we at Boomer Yearbook are good listeners.
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