Fibromyalgia is still largely misunderstood by the general public, though it appears that doctors are beginning to unlock some mysteries of the disease. Doctors use diagnostic criteria to define the condition, though patients may still have questions about the disease.
The major causes of fibromyalgia are still a mystery. Some theories include: genetics, physical or emotional trauma, a chemical imbalance in the brain, low nerve growth, hormonal imbalances and decreased blood flow to the brain. For more information, see What Causes Fibromyalgia?
The "test" for fibromyalgia is a physical evaluation. A patient must experience pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least three months. Diagnosing fibromyalgia is an inexact science, so patient should be aware that there is the possibility of misdiagnosis. For more information, see Fibromyalgia: Getting Diagnosed.
Diet and exercise are notable for helping manage fibromyalgia. Certain foods can cause pain and inflammation; it is best to avoid these foods. Due to the pain that many patients experience, exercise is difficult. Experts recommend low-impact exercises, including yoga and water exercises. For more information, see Fibromyalgia and Exercise.
There are currently three FDA approved drugs for the treatment of fibromyalgia: Lyrica (originally approved to treat seizures), Cymbalta (an anti-depressant) and Savella (which restores the balance of chemicals in the brain). For more information, see Fibroymalgia: Medication.
The first thing to do is to consult your primary care doctor. He or she will most likely be able to diagnose the problem himself or direct you to a specialist who is most able to help. For more information, see Working With Doctors.
There are management techniques to minimize the way that the disease affects your lifestyle, including medication, diet, exercise and meditation. But unfortunately, there is no cure. For more information, see After the Diagnosis: Facing Life with Fibromyalgia.
While the condition itself is not fatal, fibromyalgia patients do have a higher risk of suicide and accidental death than the non-fibromyalgia population. Maximizing quality of life is the issue with fibromyalgia, not the terminality of the condition. For more information, see Fibromyalgia Patients at Increased Risk of Suicide.