To understand how the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is made, it is important to first understand how the body is divided by medical practitioners. Typically the body is viewed as four different sections, the left and right sides and above and below the belt line. The American College of Rheumatology has determined that only people who have discomfort in each of these four areas can be classified as having the condition. In addition, the pain is typically present for more than 3-4 months. This institute has also identified 18 different trigger points throughout the body and people suffering from fibromyalgia must have pain in at least 11 of them.
While long lasting pain that seems to affect every portion of your body is the main symptom of fibromyalgia, our patients at Smith Family Clinic, Inc. have reported experiencing some of the following symptoms:
Fibromyalgia isn’t the only condition that has been found to cause the symptoms listed above. This condition is often grouped with two other conditions that produce similar symptoms, but have much different causes; lupus and chronic fatigue syndrome. These conditions can be thought of the rungs on a ladder, the higher you go the more severe they get. On this ladder, fibromyalgia would be the bottom rung, chronic fatigue syndrome would be the middle, and lupus would be at the top. With all of these conditions being more common in females and producing symptoms that mimic each other, it can be hard to differentiate them. However, lupus is believed to be caused by an autoimmune disorder and fibromyalgia seems to be related to stress and disturbances with a person’s metabolism.
The relationship between fibromyalgia, stress, and metabolism can be confusing. Basically, a person who is under chronic stress creates conditions that result in less blood flowing to certain areas in the brain. Typically, the lack of blood flow effects an area of the brain called the pituitary gland, which is extremely important in secreting a specific set of hormones that regulate metabolism and stress responses. When these hormones are not secreted properly, the many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia begin to appear.