Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition of unrelenting pain in the muscles, joints, tendons and soft tissues at different areas of the body. The pain is unrelated to obvious injury and is often made worse with exertion, weather changes or stress. It is often accompanied by extreme, “bone-weary” fatigue, difficulty sleeping and depression. It can significantly reduce the quality of life for the patient, their family and the community.
There are numerous theories as to the cause of fibromyalgia, but so far, all we know is that fibromyalgia is associated with several risk factors:
- Genetics: Those with fibromyalgia are likely to have another family member who has also suffers from this condition.
- Physical or emotional trauma: A physical injury or an emotionally traumatizing event my trigger fibromyalgia. Those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a tendency to suffer from fibromyalgia as well.
- Age and gender: According to the National Institutes of Health, fibromyalgia commonly occurs in women between the ages of 20 to 50.
- Infection: Some theorize that certain infections and diseases can trigger fibromyalgia, though more research is necessary to specifically identify these diseases or infections.
Medical treatments often include medications, physical therapy, exercise, stress reduction, massage, counseling and support groups. Other treatments which can be integrated into a patient’s care can include dietary changes, herbal and nutritional supplements, yoga, taiji (tai chi), qi gong, acupuncture and moxibustion. The common belief is that fibromyalgia cannot be cured, but there are many cases of patients making a full recovery and regaining their normal life.