Written by: Devon Knox
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that may cause severe pain and tenderness throughout the body. Fibromyalgia impacts the central nervous system pathways and creates an intense pain due to its alteration of nerves. The risk factors for this problem are mainly genetic, but stress and poor sleep may also contribute to its development (Chin et al., 2016). This condition may also cause fatigue, confusion, and weariness. In recent years, the criteria for the diagnosis of this condition has changed. Four essential criteria will produce a diagnosis (Wolfe et al., 2016). They include:
l General sense of pain in 4 to 5 central regions throughout the body.
l The pain and tenderness symptoms must be present for at least three months.
l A score higher than seven on the Widespread Pain Index (WPI) scored on the Symptom Severity Scale (SSS) of over 5.
l Fibromyalgia diagnoses are valid irrespective of other diagnosed conditions and do not exclude other conditions.
The exact causes of fibromyalgia are not known by researchers, making the treatment options somewhat challenging to address this condition successfully. According to Arnold et al. (2016), the best treatment options should focus on symptom-based management to improve the patient’s quality of life. This approach should include both pharmacological treatments combined with non-pharmacological therapies to achieve the best results. Pharmacological treatments can consist of necessary analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioids for pain management. Non-pharmacological treatments include patient education, exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, and sleep hygiene. One approach is not preferred over the other, as both are needed to address the unique circumstances of this problem. Each patient will most likely require a unique combination of these interventions to reduce their fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is considered a controversial condition by some medical professionals, which may cause doubt of its presence in some people. People close to the patient suggesting that this condition is “made up” or “not real” is somewhat familiar due to the uncertainty regarding this health issue. According to Goldenberg (2014), despite some previous doubt among professionals regarding fibromyalgia, “ rheumatologists now report that fibromyalgia is one of the most common diagnoses in ambulatory practice. Recent estimates of the prevalence of fibromyalgia in the United States have ranged from 3 to 6 million” (p.1570). There now appears to be enough empirical evidence to justify the presence of fibromyalgia and its appropriate treatments in many professional medical circles.
Patient education is essential in treating fibromyalgia and its symptoms. There is ample and helpful information on websites dedicated to this issue. The National Fibromyalgia Association’s web page at www.fmaware.org is a convenient place to learn the basics underlying this condition and assist the patient in managing the symptoms. The Help with Fibromyalgia Forum and Support Group at www.fibromyalgiaforums.org is another useful web page that can assist patients by providing personal support by people who are going through this ordeal and by those who have recovered from the condition.
Arnold, L. M., Gebke, K. B., & Choy, E. H. S. (2016). Fibromyalgia: management strategies for primary care providers. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 70(2), 99-112.
Chinn, S., Caldwell, W., & Gritsenko, K. (2016). Fibromyalgia pathogenesis and treatment options update: current Pain and Headache Reports, 20(4), 25.
Fibromyalgia Forums (2019). Fibromyalgia Forum Discussions. Accessed 27 May 2019 from
Goldenberg, D. L. (2014). Fibromyalgia syndrome: an emerging but controversial condition. Jama, 311(15), 1570-1570.
National Fibromyalgia Association (nd). About the NFA. Accessed 27 May 2019 from http://www.fmaware.org
Wolfe, F., Clauw, D. J., Fitzcharles, M. A., Goldenberg, D. L., Häuser, W., Katz, R. L., … & Walitt, B. (2016). 2016 Revisions to the 2010/2011 fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria. In Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism (Vol. 3, No. 46, pp. 319-329).