Fibromyalgia: What is it, who has it, and how to live with its effects?

With no known cause and perpetual ongoing pain that radiates throughout the body, it is no wonder that Fibromyalgia gives most of us pause. With all of the media and commercials that advertize the medications intended to relieve the sleep deprivation, Tension or migraine headaches and or fatigue brought about by this dreaded culprit, we are all left wondering who is at risk, and how to overcome the effects if or when we are diagnosed.

Fibromyalgia is a long-term, body-wide chronic disease. It causes pain and “tender points” in joints, muscles and within the deep tissue of the body. These tender points are found in the soft tissue on the back of the neck, shoulders, sternum, lower back, hips, shins, elbows, and knees. Symptoms may include but are not limited to numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet.

Not much is known about what causes Fibromyalgia, but some triggers are thought to include physical trauma, some type of emotional traumatic event or perhaps an abnormal pain response within the brain. Symptoms seem to increase with activity, cold or damp weather, anxiety, and stress.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia is made by testing of on-going pain in at least eleven of the eighteen tender-point sites. These soft tissue sites are found in:

  • Arms (elbows)
  • Buttocks
  • Chest
  • Knees
  • Lower back
  • Neck
  • Rib cage
  • Shoulders
  • Thighs

Anyone can be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but it is found most prevalently in women between the ages of 20 to 50.

Doctor’s focus for treatment is usually directed in relieving symptoms by any means necessary. Diagnosed patients may be told to reduce stress, exercise more, even though they are in pain much of the time, or seek support groups to learn to deal with the pain. Sometimes medications are prescribed such as muscle relaxers.

With tried and true methods of massage, that incorporate stretching and mobilizing of tight muscles, the stiffness in joints and muscles as well as the plaguing neck and back pain will disappear over time. Massage can relax and relieve pain in known trouble areas for those suffering with Fibromyalgia. One final and very important way relief by massage benefits Fibromyalgia sufferers is by the refocusing of the mind when the body is gently stretched and muscles are frequently brought to a relaxed state.

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