Fibromyalgia is one of the most common diseases
affecting the muscles, tendons, and joints in women. Many health care
professionals still do not recognize the condition as a disorder, most likely,
because x-rays, blood tests, and biopsies often show no prevalent evidence to
support the patient's complaints. However, in recent years, the use of
thermographs, a device that tests and measures the heat produced by areas of the
body, has helped diagnose the condition. Studies indicate that fibromyalgia
patients have decreased blood flow and decreased skin temperatures in sites of
tenderness. Symptoms include long-term muscle soreness, muscle stiffness,
sleeplessness, fatigue, mood changes, anxiety and depression. Often times the
condition is worsened by stress and weather changes. Unlike other rheumatic
conditions that cause swelling and inflammation of the tissues in the body,
fibromyalgia does not cause any type of joint deformity or does not damage any
Many times, patients that suffer with fibromyalgia have other conditions or
disorders that will occur. One of the most common disorders associated with
fibromyalgia is TMJ, a disorder associated with the jaw. Many sufferers of
fibromyalgia may be diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well. Some
patients complain of migraine or tension headaches, irritable bowel and bladder
syndromes. Some women may develop a loss in memory and concentration.
Fibrocystic Breast Disease and Endometriosis is often present in women that have
fibromyalgia, although there has been no studies conducted regarding the
correlation of the two.
Causes of this condition is still unknown, many experts are researching the
relationship between menopause and fibromyalgia. Most women are diagnosed with
this condition between the ages of 40 to 55 which is when menopause usually
occurs, and approximately 85%-90% of all reported Fibromyalgia conditions are
women. Hormonal changes, such as the decreased amounts of estrogen in the female
body, may contribute to symptoms like anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness in
fibromyalgia patients. Research shows, however, that estrogen and progesterone
replacement therapy is not that beneficial to fibromyalgia sufferers. There are
mild benefits reported when using the estrogen patches rather than the estrogen
pills. Some studies indicate that the low thyroid function and decreased levels
of thyroid hormones, as well as estrogen and progesterone hormones, may
contribute to muscular pain, fatigue, mood changes, and anxiety. At the present
time the correlation between menopause and fibromyalgia is uncertain, due to the
lack of research on the subject. Fortunately, more tests are being conducted to
find out how declining estrogen levels affect the onset of fibromyalgia.
On-going research is being conducted that may suggest abnormally low levels of
the hormone Cortisol, which is the hormone produced by the adrenal gland may
also be a linked cause.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this disorder or completely cure it,
either… Therefore, most treatment's center on conquering the symptoms associated
with fibromyalgia. Treatments for women suffering from fibromyalgia vary
according to symptoms. In some cases, physical therapy or light exercise may be
prescribed. Research has shown that the use of ice immediately following any
exercise may decrease muscle and joint pain. The use of tricyclic
anti-depressants usually used in treating depression; has also been shown to be
an effective medication for treating firbromyalgia. These medications usually
relieve depression, anxiety, reduce fatigue, and restores effective sleep
patterns. Some physicians may prescribe local injections of analgesics to the
sore or stiff areas. The use of pain-relievers and muscle relaxers has both been
beneficial in reducing pain symptoms and improving sleep. Often times, doctors
will discuss pain and stress management to their patients; which can eliminate
some symptoms of the disorder.
Diet plays an important role in the prevention of symptoms concerning
fibromyalgia. Eating organic foods, such as fruits and vegetables; increasing
the intake of low-fat, high fiber foods; those high in Omega-3 Fatty acids,
found in fish may benefit sufferers. Some physicians suggest lowering sodium
rich foods or eliminating additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG's) and
artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame may relieve many symptoms of fibromyalgia.
And recent studies indicate the use of a vegan diet may help alleviate symptoms.
Alternative treatments, specifically in the field of homeopathic remedies,
suggest taking magnesium, B-12 Vitamins, and Vitamin C.
Other non-medical treatments involve massage therapy, heat therapy and cold
packs that may temporarily relieve symptoms. The use of Hydrotherapy or water
therapy can increase circulation and decrease muscle aches. Currently, there are
studies being conducted that may offer more treatments or one specific treatment
for helping relieve fibromyalgia symptoms.
Women suffering with this disorder may find themselves withdrawing from society
due to the pain and anxiety associated with fibromyalgia. Many times, women find
themselves unable to work a physical or stressful job. The best advice is to
seek treatment and maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes light exercise,
good eating habits, and staying active in both, work and life.
About The Author:
Dr. James Brann is a board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and a Fellow
of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is also the
Editor of Women's Healthcare Topics an information source for all women.
http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com At Women's Healthcare Topics website
you will find valuable and up-to-date information on numerous topics related to
women's health including Early Signs of Pregnancy, First Pelvic Exam, Genital
Warts and more.