Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way the brain and spinal cord process painful and non-painful signals. Symptoms usually begin after an event, such as physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. People assigned as women at birth (AFAB) and people over the age of 40 are more likely to receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. There's no cure for fibromyalgia, but doctors and other healthcare providers can help control and treat symptoms.
In this sensitive point exam, developed in 1990, a doctor applies pressure to 18 specific points on the body; a patient who feels pain in at least 11 of these points is believed to have fibromyalgia. A healthcare provider will diagnose fibromyalgia through a physical exam and an analysis of your health history. Robert Bennett, MD, professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, and founder of the Fibromyalgia Information Network. If a person with fibromyalgia exercises too much on days when their symptoms are good, they may end up having more bad days.
Experts don't know what causes fibromyalgia and there's no cure for it, but a healthcare provider will help you find treatments to control your symptoms. There are no blood tests, any other diagnostic or laboratory tests, or any imaging studies that can identify fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic (long-lasting) disorder that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as fatigue and trouble sleeping. The symptoms of fibromyalgia flare-ups vary, but often include generalized pain, joint stiffness, and extreme sensitivity to stimuli.
Keeping track of activities, meals, hours and duration of sleep, and symptoms of fibromyalgia can help identify certain triggers. While a specific diet is not recommended for people with fibromyalgia, there are certain foods that seem to worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Daniel Clauw, MD, professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a leading fibromyalgia researcher. Activities that can help people with fibromyalgia include walking, cycling, swimming, and water aerobics.
While techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can help manage stress, it's important that people with fibromyalgia don't completely avoid physical activity. However, medication and lifestyle changes can help treat fibromyalgia and reduce the likelihood of exacerbations.