“Everything hurts”. It is the day to day of fibromyalgia: fatigue and pain throughout the body, and problems sleeping and concentrating, without known cause or cure. But progress continues to define an effective treatment.
Fibromyalgia is not an invented disease. For many years, the suffering of many people has been underestimated, despite being a condition recognized by the WHO since 1992.
According to the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, affects almost one and a half million Spaniards (95% of them, women), and although it is known that it is caused by an alteration in the perception of pain at the cerebral level, its treatment relieves the symptoms, but it does not cure.
Unfortunately, diagnosing it becomes an odyssey that lasts, on average, 7 years.
THE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
The central symptom is generalized pain in muscles, joints and ligaments, accompanied by:
Severe tiredness and muscle stiffness that appear in the morning (the “I can not get up”) and that get worse with rest.
Alterations of the dream.
Memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
Anxiety and sadness, derived from the inability to lead a normal life.
Although the pain is constant, the symptoms of fibromyalgia arise as outbreaks. There are phases of stability and others in which they get worse. Each person evolves in a way. Therefore, it is difficult to define the causes of fibromyalgia and a single treatment that works in all cases. In addition, you can have two diseases related to chronic pain at the same time. For example, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which is often confused with fibromyalgia, although it is a question of different ailments. While fibromyalgia is a rheumatic disease, CFS refers to physical and mental fatigue.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE DIAGNOSTIC
If you suspect that constant pain may be fibromyalgia, see your GP. After evaluating your situation, you can refer to the hospital unit specialized in fibromyalgia in your area.
There are no specific analytical tests that validate the diagnosis. The physical examination serves to rule out other ailments, and consists of blood, thyroid and immune tests, bone x-rays of the body parts that are painful, chest and electrocardiogram.
There is no analysis that confirms the disease but locating the “trigger points” is effective
So, how is the diagnosis of fibromyalgia made? Dr. Joaquim Fernández-Solà, expert in Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, gives us some clues.
Currently, for a diagnosis as defined as possible, the clinical criteria of the American College of Rheumatology are followed:
There are 18 locations on the body (called “trigger points”) that are more sensitive to pain in people with fibromyalgia. If 11 of these points react, it is a signal to be taken into account.
The Generalized Pain Index (WPI) is also applied, which groups these trigger points into more general areas.
The control of painful points is combined with checking for symptoms such as fatigue, restless sleep and lack of mental agility that are not related to a pathology and last more than 3 months.
Checking the eyes. Published in the journal “PLoS ONE”, see if there is a thinning of the nervous fiber layer of the eye, by means of a tomography. The visual loss gives clues as to whether there is an irregularity in the central nervous system, which regulates changes in the regions of the brain associated with pain.
A thumb test Based on applying pressure, heat and cold, and clamping on a thumb for 1 minute, and explained in the “Journal of Pain Research”. It is a simple and comfortable way to both detect the disease and measure its degree (mild, moderate or high).
For the way of walking (speed, step length, foot pressure). It is what he considers a reliable diagnostic method of the University of Granada.
IS THERE TREATMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA?
There is no way to cure this disease but the treatment of fibromyalgia should be personalized and includes dietary guidelines, exercise, psychological support and drugs to relieve symptoms. Thus, it is possible for a team of different specialists to participate in planning and reviewing the treatment.
They will inform you and your relatives of the details about fibromyalgia and what it means to live with it.
They will recommend a varied and balanced diet that protects you from cellular wear and from accumulating toxins.
A balanced diet protects against cellular wear and accumulates toxins that cause pain
It suits you to eat fresh fruit and vegetables (pomegranate, red fruits, orange, pineapple, apple to obtain vitamins and fiber, green leafy vegetables that give you minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, virgin olive oil, blue fish and
Definitions of fibromyalgia
a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas.
The definitive differentiation between myocardial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia is made by physical examination.
which are “good” fats; and a daily ounce of dark chocolate, because it contains tryptophan, which relieves pain and reduces stress. Avoid additives and toxins. Try not to fry or eat processed products. Wash the food well and, if you can, opt for the ecological ones. Do soft physical exercise: walk, dance or do low impact aerobics (also in the water, which should be more than 28º). Ideally, 30 minutes a day in blocks of 10 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week. Yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates (without straining your arms or stretching for a long time) 2 days a week help you take care of your posture and balance, and relax the mind. Psychological therapy is a resource to know how to deal with pain and its impact on daily life. The drugs that can prescribe you act promptly on the symptoms. They are antidepressants to improve mood and reduce anxiety, and anticonvulsants to reduce pain. For Dr. Joaquim Fernández-Solà it is advisable to accept and adapt to the disease, and respect the rhythm of the body: “The disease is there, but it is not degenerative. Take advantage of the good phases and do not anticipate the bad times or focus on you always feel pain. “In this sense also speaks to us Dr. Cayetano Alegre, Physician of the Rheumatology Unit of the Hospital Vall d’Hebrón (Barcelona) who advises: “It is essential that people with fibromyalgia lead an active life. That they exercise moderately and begin little by little, that they try to work so as not to disconnect from the social environment, that they have an active intellectual and sexual life. That will help them improve their self-esteem and avoid depression, too. “