Fibromyalgia is a debilitating health condition that is characterized by widespread pain that occurs throughout the body. It affects both the muscle and skeletal structure of the body, as well as the connective tissues. It is believed that disruptions within the brain magnify the sensation of pain at various areas within the body. Along with extensive pain, the person may also report extreme fatigue. The intense pain and fatigue are constant, which can result in difficulties when it comes to staying on task and focused on the activities at hand. Symptoms often first appear after a severe injury or illness.
The way fibromyalgia has been diagnosed has changed over the years. When pain was considered the condition's main identifier, doctors used to check 18 specific points on the body. If all of the points were positive for pain or some level of discomfort, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia was made. Today, a fibromyalgia diagnosis relies more on a patient's complete blood count, tests that indicate thyroid function, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. These indicators give doctors a more complete idea of what may be going on inside a patient's body and help them to make a more accurate diagnosis.
With so much being unknown about the cause of fibromyalgia, the main form of treatment is to address the symptoms and manage them as efficiently as possible. Doctors normally offer over-the-counter pain medications to help manage their discomfort. Antidepressants can help to control the depression that often accompanies the constant pain and fatigue that is common with fibromyalgia. Anti-seizure medications have also been prescribed to fibromyalgia patients to reduce certain types of severe pain. Deep, searing pain is often associated with nerve damage and may present itself as the condition continues to worsen.