For most patients, finally receiving a diagnosis of fibromyalgia may bring a measure of relief since the wide range of sometimes vague symptoms of this disorder is often mistaken (by doctors as well as family, friends, and acquaintances) for hypochondria. As we well know at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, putting a name to a painful condition can provide validation and hope.
Our physiatrists (pain management specialists) have a well-earned reputation for accurate diagnosis and successful, individualized treatment plans. We have a holistic approach to medicine that is especially helpful with a disorder like fibromyalgia with its myriad interlocking symptoms.
Why is fibromyalgia such a problematic, confusing condition?
The reason fibromyalgia is so difficult to diagnose is that it is a condition that causes pain throughout the body, so it’s difficult to pin down its origin. The fact that this widespread pain is accompanied by sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional distress, makes it all too easy for others to dismiss as “all in your head.”
Nonetheless, patients with fibromyalgia (nearly 4 million in the U.S. alone) suffer real, persistent pain due to “abnormal pain perception processing.” Fortunately, fibromyalgia can be properly diagnosed and treated with the typical and complementary therapies offered at our offices.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are
- Pain and stiffness throughout the body
- Extreme fatigue and sleep disorders
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive difficulties (“fibro fog”)
- Headaches (including migraines)
Other symptoms may include:
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Pain in the face or jaw (TMJ)
- Digestive problems (e.g. abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, IBS)
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
Clearly, the multiple, varied symptoms of fibromyalgia diminish quality of life. They can also put you into an unfortunate pain cycle in which the pain you experience makes you anxious and upset which only increases your muscle tension, resulting in even more pain. That’s why it’s so important to consult with a doctor with the knowledge and empathy to help you break the vicious circle.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Though scientists have not yet isolated a cause for the ailment, it is believed to be related to dysfunction among the brain’s neurotransmitters, resulting in an abnormal increase in certain chemicals that make pain receptors more sensitive and pain signals more constant. In some cases, fibromyalgia may be traced back to one or more of the following:
- Physical trauma, like a serious accident or major surgery
- Virulent viral infection
- Major psychological stressor, particularly one causing PTSD
- Certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to the condition
Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia
Studies have shown that you are at increased risk for the problem if you:
- Are female
- Have a family history of the condition
- Suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
- Are at least middle-aged
- Have suffered a repetitive joint injury
- Are obese
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we are meticulous about a diagnosis. Beyond taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical examination, we will rule out any other conditions we may suspect through: X-rays or other imaging scans (e.g. MRIs or CT scans, diagnostic ultrasound) electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies or blood work.
Treatment of Fibromyalgia
To successfully treat fibromyalgia, you have to work with an open-minded professional who is well-equipped to use complementary medicine as well as more mainstream medical pain relief methods. We offer a broad range of remedies to tackle the disorder’s wide range of symptoms, including:
- Customized physical therapy to stretch and strengthen muscles and ease tension
- Prescribed exercises you can do at home to reinforce the in-office physical therapy
- Over-the-counter, and possibly prescribed, pain medications
- Acupuncture to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
- PRP (platelet enriched plasma) therapy to facilitate healing
- Ultrasound-guided injections of corticosteroid and analgesics (in some cases)
- PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy
Most important of all is our compassionate approach to you as a whole human being, not a composite of body parts. We know from experience that true healing requires a trusting interaction between doctor and patient. We work hard to earn your trust and take genuine pleasure in your improved well-being as a result of our efforts.