Fibromyalgia syndrome is a long term condition that causes pain in the muscles and tendons all over the body. Fibromyalgia affects one in twenty people, mainly females and can start at any time of life though you are more likely to get it in between the ages of thirty and sixty.
Fibromyalgia can be difficult syndromes to diagnose as there are no specific tests and symptoms are similar to other conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis. The syndrome is basically diagnosed by ruling other conditions out so the process of diagnosis can be a lengthy one.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is still not known. The most likely cause is a problem with the central nervous system and how it processes pain messages. The bodies’ pain network is disturbed in some way causing sensitivity to pain and constant feelings of pain. Many sufferers also have low levels of serotonin, for regulation of moods, appetite and sleep, noradrenaline, contributes to stress response and dopamine which helps to control moods and learning.
Some events such as physical and mental traumas can bring on fibromyalgia, as can depression, HIV, Hepatitis and AIDS. Genetics, Underactive Thyroid glands and Rheumatoid Arthritis have also been linked to the onset of the syndrome.
Due to the chronic pain experienced by sufferer’s depression, anxiety, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, sleeping problems and stress may also be present with fibromyalgia.
The main symptom, pain can be widespread and usually worse in the areas of the neck and back. The pain is usually continuous and can be stabbing, burning or aching. Sufferers of fibromyalgia can also become hyper-sensitive and even the slightest touch can feel painful.
Sufferers can also become sensitive to smoke, some foods and bright lights. Constant pain in the neck and shoulder areas lead on to headaches, migraines in severe cases and even nausea.
Fibromyalgia can also make the sufferer feel very stiff, especially after staying in the same position for long periods of time. Muscle cramps and muscle spasms are also quite common. These symptoms make sleeping difficult and cause the sufferer difficulty getting up in the morning
Sufferers suffer from fatigue ranging from mild tiredness to flu-like symptoms and cognitive problems are common. Problems with attention, concentration, learning and clear speech affect a high proportion of people with fibromyalgia.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can flare up and sufferers can also experience constipation and diarrhea. Tingling in the extremities, pins and needles and restless legs are not unusual as can be painful periods for women.
A lot of sufferers start to feel very stressed and anxious as you can imagine and this can lead to depression. The increased stress and anxiety tend to make the condition worse and the sufferer enters an endless loop.
There is no known cure for fibromyalgia at the moment so only pain management is available under the NHS.
The most common drug in use for pain control is paracetamol but in more severe cases codine and tramadol can be prescribed by a GP. These stronger pain killers have long term side effects and withdrawal effects.
Antidepressants are quite often prescribed for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Not as an antidepressant but to boost levels of natural neurotransmitters such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Like the stronger pain killers, antidepressants can have long term health implications.
Sleeping tablets, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants ( anti-seizure drugs), antipsychotics (neuroleptics) are also used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Exercise is advised by the NHS but severe sufferers are unable to participate because of their pain.
Relaxation is also advised to reduce stress and anxiety as well as avoidance of caffeine and eating late before bed to aid sleep.
Alternative therapies to relieve the symptoms of pain include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), acupuncture and Hypnotherapy.
There is a support forum on line for sufferers in the UK at www.ukfibromyalgia.com
The NHS do offer pain management courses but the waiting lists are very long and quite often sufferers in desperation will seek help privately. A friend of mine told me that she had to wait for over 3 months for pain management through the NHS.
Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose and sometimes a label is placed on people when maybe it is lack of experience with sufferer’s leads to misdiagnosis. Many sufferer’s on fibromyalgia help websites were citing the importance of finding a doctor who specializes in this field as many GP’s do not know enough about it. Once sufferers start to do their homework on line they can find plenty of symptoms that they “should” have and may start suffering from psychosomatic illnesses. Luckily in this case hypnotherapy is good for dealing with this type of problem.
In my opinion there are several personal issues that need to be looked into to help a fibromyalgia sufferer. It is important to check for background History as there are often triggers that start the syndrome off. Fibromyalgia can be triggered by childhood traumas. It is also common to find that physical and mental traumas later on in life can set the ball rolling and this includes stress. A lot of suffers prior to having problems experienced stress and anxiety at work or in their private lives. If the syndrome is found to be genetic in the future stress could be an accelerator for fibromyalgia carriers.
The most common ages for sufferers to be diagnosed with the syndrome is between 30 and 60 years old which can be pretty stressful periods of anyone’s lives. The forums did seem to have a lot of teenage sufferers posting so maybe the extra pressure on teenagers today will lower that trend.
Dealing with current issues like pain management, depression, stress and ego are area’s that could be managed by a hypnotherapist.
There is help for fibromyalgia sufferers. On the internet there are websites and forums dedicated to Fibromyalgia. Knowing that they are not suffering alone can be a great help for suffers and having some support is of great comfort. I would advise the client to look up these websites and involve themselves if they were happy to.
Exercise to produce natural pain killing hormones like dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline is also recommended for sufferers and depending on the severity of the syndrome I would recommend that they thought about some form of exercise to alleviate pain
Hypnosis can help with relieving some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia in some people. If a sufferer visits a hypnotherapist and at the very least leaves feeling mentally better and happier then surely hypnotherapy is a possitive thing. The better a client feels then the better they can deal with their problem.