By Dr. Sunny Chopra, Orthopaedics
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that affects the soft tissues and muscles of the body; it is characterized by fatigue, troubled sleep, muscle pain and tender spots on the body. The symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of arthritis as both cause fatigue, pain and bring about problems in carrying out your daily activities.
The most common symptoms of this disorder are changes in sleep patterns, morning stiffness, migraines, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (a disorder that affects the large intestine). In women, it can lead to painful periods. This disorder is also known to affect one’s cognitive functions and memory.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known, however, there is a list of factors that can trigger its symptoms. The factors are:
- A Traumatic or Stressful Event: A traumatic or stressful event, PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) or an accident can act as a trigger to this condition.
- Genetics: This disorder has been seen to run in the family. Hence, a gene mutation could be a likely cause for this disorder.
- Infections: Certain infections that can be either bacterial or viral can lead to fibromyalgia.
- Repetitive Injuries: If certain injuries tend to occur repetitively over a period of time, then this can increase the risks of this disorder.
The treatment uses a two-pronged approach – medications and self-care. Both these approaches help in minimizing the symptoms and also improve your overall health. The medications are-
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants are prescribed to deal with cognitive problems, if any. They also promote better sleep.
- Pain Relievers: To reduce muscle pain, the doctor may prescribe pain relieving drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
In addition to these medications, self-care measures such as exercising on a regular basis, eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining proper sleeping habits can also help.