CFIDS - What to do for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood condition, which has been known for many years by a variety of names: fibrositis, myofascial pain syndrome, and muscular rheumatism. It is very common and probably accounts for many so-called "tension" headaches, frozen shoulders, and low back pain. The presence of "trigger points," distinct spots in muscles that can often be felt as hard little knots and which are very tender, is basic to fibromyalgia. Pain can often be felt, though, in areas relatively distant from the trigger points and can sometimes appear to radiate down the leg or from the chest into the shoulder. As a result, the condition is often confused with other serious problems, such as heart disease (if the pain is in the chest) or a slipped disc (if it is in the back and leg).

The natural response to pain in a muscle is to keep the muscle inactive but with fibromyalgia, this creates a vicious circle, since the inactive muscles become weaker and stiffer and more susceptible to injury, resulting in the formation of new trigger points. That may lead you to put increased strain on other muscles, leading to tenderness there. Stretching the affected muscles, followed by heat often causes the trigger points to subside. Massage, especially after stretching and applying heat, will hurt but will help to loosen the trigger points. Some doctors have injected the trigger points with a local anesthetic with good results. A recent paper advocated low doses of amitriptyline (Elavil), an antidepressant that is often given in low doses for chronic pain syndromes.

It is often difficult to figure out good stretching exercises for the hip, anvery complicated joint, and you might find a physiatrist, the medical specialist who deals with rehabilitation and physical therapy, helpful in designing a program. Deep heating techniques such as ultrasound, have also been shown to help.

Continue to walk, stretch, and apply heat. Don't let anyone persuade you that it's all in your mind. If you can't find doctors to help - or perhaps even if you can - try massage, particularly shiatsu or acupressure massage.

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