Fibromyalgia (FM) has quite a history! There is evidence that dates as far back as Hippocrates in ancient Greece, when he described a mysterious condition affecting the muscles which portrays FM pretty accurately!
FM is a complex condition that includes fatigue and chronic muscle, tendon, and ligament pain that is wide-spread (NOT contained to one small region). Generalized pain and fatigue are the hallmarks of FM, which can range from mild to severe disability. However, there are many misconceptions about FM.
How much do you THINK you know about FM? Try the self-test below. For each statement, decide if the statement is true or false. The answers can be found below…
- FM shortens one’s life span.
- A patient may see several doctors before finding someone willing to help them.
- FM can affect children, though it is most common in adults ages 20-55.
- To properly diagnose FM, you must have at least 11 of 18 tender points.
- With FM, you should not exercise if your body hurts.
- A multi-discipline treatment approach usually works best (chiropractic, primary care, massage therapy, and others).
- If you have FM, you were probably born with it.
- Women usually develop FM more often than males.
- The presence of pain associated FM signifies muscle deterioration.
- It is easy to confuse FM with other diseases.
FM is present in 2-4% of the population and affects everyone differently, so each case is best managed by an individualized form of treatment. In other words, one treatment approach for every FM patient is NOT the proper approach. For some, fatigue is the primary issue, while for others, it’s the sleep disturbance, irritable bowel syndrome, or bladder problems that require the most attention. There is frequently a co-existing psychological condition that may include depression, anxiety, and/or a stress-related condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. In reference to the 10 statements above, FM does NOT shorten one’s life span, but it does affect quality of life. The primary goal of treatment is to help the FM patient gain control of their condition. It truly can take multiple visits to different doctors before finding one that’s willing to work with you and coordinate care with other “team” providers to give you the best quality care. FM can affect children, though it’s rare – it’s primarily the 20-55 year old age group with a 9:1 ratio favoring the female population. The “old” 11 of 18 tender point diagnostic requirement has been replaced by “widespread, generalized pain,” NOT limited to specific points. Exercise is one of the BEST self-management strategies and should be encouraged. Though a genetic component has been identified, FM is NOT something you are “born with.” The pain associated with FM is NOT indicative of muscle deterioration. FM is often confused with other diseases and the diagnosis is made by eliminating the other more easily diagnosable disorders. Chiropractic is a VERY important part of the management team in the care of the FM patient.
Answers: 1. False; 2. True; 3. True; 4. False; 5. False; 6. True; 7. False; 8. True; 9. False; 10. True.