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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness over much of the body.  It is most common in women and up to 1 person in every 25 may be affected. 

Fibromyalgia Overview

Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness over much of the body.  It is most common in women and up to 1 person in every 25 may be affected. 

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose.  At present, there are no specific blood tests, x-rays or scans that will confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and may patients with fibromyalgia will have normal results with all their blood tests. It is however important to do these blood tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

 

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on the presence of specific tender points in certain areas of your body. The following factors must also be evident:

  • Widespread pain lasting three months or more.

  • Fatigue and an interrupted sleep pattern.

  • Cognitive symptoms (Problems with memory and understanding.)

  • No other health problem that would explain the pain and other symptoms.

Conditions

Fibromyalgia Treatment

There is as yet no cure for fibromyalgia, and treatment managing your symptoms to improve your quality of life. These may include the following:

 

  • Drug treatments.  These might include medications such as amitriptyline, gabapentin and pregabalin. 

 

  • Physiotherapy.  This might improve your posture and physical function, and help you to become more active. 

 

  • Occupational therapy.  This might help you to manage your everyday activities without increasing your pain or wearing yourself out. You would be advised about specific pacing approaches, changing the way you work or using labour-saving gadgets. If you're struggling at work your therapist can recommend adjustments that might help.

 

  • Psychological therapies.  Persistent or chronic pain can affect your mood, making you feel sad, anxious, frustrated, angry or afraid. This can affect your behaviour. Psychological approaches aim to address the emotional aspects of pain. Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) often focus on separating out these different aspects of your experience of pain, breaking the problem down into more manageable chunks. They also include techniques for relaxation, coping with stress.

 

 

  • Pain Management Programmes. These bring together the skills of a wide range of professionals over several days or weeks.  Psychologists often lead group sessions to help you develop ways of coping with your symptoms.

 

  • Trigger point injections with lignocaine. This involves injecting local anaesthetic (lignocaine) into the tender points using an ultrasound guide probe to relax the muscle spasm.  This can provide patients with some temporary relief, and therefore will need to be repeated at  but it does require repeating at intervals.

 

 

  • Intravenous lignocaine infusion. This involves injecting lignocaine into the bloodstream so that it circulates and relieves the widespread muscle pain.  This infusion takes an hour and is done in hospital to monitor your heat and lung function.

Patient Information (PDFs)