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About 4 million American adults suffer from fibromyalgia, many with symptoms so severe and persistent that they make everyday activities difficult and painful. As a chronic medical condition, fibromyalgia requires ongoing medical care. The key to feeling better is learning to recognize the signs of fibromyalgia so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

As a leading pain management practice, Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, provides comprehensive, patient-centered treatment plans for patients with fibromyalgia. Here’s what David Berkower, DO, wants you to know about this debilitating medical condition, including some of the most common signs to look for.

Fibromyalgia basics

Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by an array of symptoms, including chronic and widespread aches and pains. Researchers aren’t sure what causes fibromyalgia, but they believe the painful symptoms are likely related to an overly sensitive central nervous system that overreacts to any type of pain, including mild stimuli.

Unlike arthritis or muscle strain, fibromyalgia symptoms are not associated with damage to joints or other tissues, which is another reason why it can be difficult to diagnose. Fibromyalgia may occur spontaneously, or it can be triggered by an underlying event, such as:

  • Past injury
  • Prior surgery or other medical treatment
  • Infection
  • Severe stress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Fibromyalgia is far more common among women, and it also tends to run in families, which means there may be a genetic component as well.

Recognizing fibromyalgia

Widespread aches and pains may be the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia, but they’re not the only ones. Most people have other symptoms, too. Here are five common signs to look for.

1. Tender spots

In addition to widespread aches and pains, fibromyalgia can cause tender spots or “trigger points,” which are spots that are typically near your joints that feel sore when gently pressed. People with fibromyalgia may have several of these tender spots in different areas.

2. Sleep problems

The painful symptoms of fibromyalgia can make it hard to fall asleep and to get a good night’s rest. Plus, the relationship between sleep and fibromyalgia is “bidirectional, which means fibromyalgia pain interferes with sleep, and lack of sleep makes those painful symptoms worse. Plus, less sleep can lower your pain tolerance, making pain more common and more intense.

3. Fatigue

Everyone feels sleepy from time to time, but for many people with fibromyalgia, feeling tired and worn down is a part of their daily existence. You may feel as if all your energy has been drained, or your arms and legs may feel weighed down. Even the smallest tasks can feel like they require significant effort.

4. Headaches

About 7 out of 10 fibromyalgia patients have migraines or tension headaches, and often, these headaches are intense. Researchers think these headaches may be related to trigger points in the neck, shoulders, or head. It’s not uncommon for people with fibromyalgia to have multiple headaches in a single week.

5. Problems concentrating or remembering

Problems with concentration, focus, and memory are so common among people with fibromyalgia that the term “fibro fog” has come about. If you have fibro fog, you might find it difficult to focus, especially in a distracting environment. Some people find it harder to carry on a complex conversation or move easily and quickly from one subject to another.

Finding relief for fibromyalgia symptoms

Dr. Berkower knows that fibromyalgia can affect people in different ways. Before prescribing treatment for you, he’ll review your medical history, order lab tests, and perform a physical exam.

Once fibromyalgia is diagnosed, your treatment plan will likely include lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity and dietary changes, along with medical management, such as:

  • Pain medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleep aids
  • Trigger point injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Stress management

Regular office visits can help ensure that your symptoms stay under control.

There’s no cure for fibromyalgia, but it can be successfully managed. To learn more, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.

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