You may have heard about fibromyalgia on television advertisements, or from someone you know. However, without a visit to an orthopedic surgeon, most people may not know what this condition exactly is, or the symptoms that come with it.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes aches and pain all over the body. People with fibromyalgia also have “tender points” throughout their bodies. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs that hurt when pressure is put on them.
Fibromyalgia affects as many as five million Americans aged 18 and older. Most people with fibromyalgia are women (about 80 – 90 percent), however, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia can occur by itself, but people with certain other diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis, may be more likely to have it. Individuals who have a close relative with fibromyalgia are also more likely to develop it themselves.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
People with fibromyalgia often see many doctors before being diagnosed. One reason for this may be that pain and fatigue, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, also are symptoms of many other conditions. Therefore, doctors must often rule out other possible causes of these symptoms before diagnosing fibromyalgia. Your orthopedic surgeon can treat your fibromyalgia based on these criteria:
1. A history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months: Pain must be present in both the right and left sides of the body as well as above and below the waist.
2. Presence of tender points: The body has 18 sites that are possible tender points. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person must have 11 or more tender points. For a point to be “tender,” the patient must feel pain when pressure is put on the site. People who have fibromyalgia may feel pain at other sites, too, but those 18 sites on the body are used for diagnosis.
How is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, as much so as it can be to diagnose. It’s important to find a doctor who has treated others with fibromyalgia. Treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your orthopedic doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers.
To learn more about fibromyalgia, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.