Pain is part of the human condition. It is our body’s response to unpleasant stimuli or injury. Pain is a signal that something is dangerous and reminds us to not to do it again. However, there are the conditions that cause chronic pain as a part of their symptom list. One major contributor to chronic pain is fibromyalgia. The symptoms for fibromyalgia are varied and can easily mimic the effects of other diseases.
Some commonly reported symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread, persisting pain throughout the body lasting longer than six months. Other symptoms include constant fatigue, low energy, reduced tolerance of exercise or aerobic activity, numbness or tingling in the extremities, tension headaches and what is described as the “fibro fog” or a difficulty remembering details or concentrating.
As you can see, these kind of symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed as part of the aging process, fatigue, or just too much stress. In fact, fibromyalgia has been connected to high levels of stress. Even the breakdown of the name fibromyalgia can be vague. If we look at the Latin roots of the word, “fibro” refers to the fibrous tissues in the body, “myo” meaning muscle and “alga” meaning pain translates into “pain in the muscles and the fibrous tissue.” In essence, that includes about 90% of the body.
There is no standard medical test that can conclusively diagnose fibromyalgia. What happens is really a lesson in elimination. After the physical and blood tests have been performed, medical imaging is another method to eliminate possible causes for chronic pain like tumors or structural deformities. Medical imaging tests like full-body MRIs and brain CTs can rule out most of the common causes of chronic pain and point to fibromyalgia.
Doctors have not yet found the cause behind fibromyalgia. Some theorize that it could be a combination of genetic, environmental and autoimmune and neurological. According to some research, the brains of some fibromyalgia patients have shown to contain some functional and structural differences from the brains of healthy patients. While the research hopes to find a cause for the condition, patients still need to find solutions and therapies to help deal with the symptoms.
Some patients have found success in physical therapy, where the physicality helps to keep them in shape and find management for their pain. Exercise has been proven to helpful for some patients. Aquatic exercise like swimming can be particularly helpful because the buoyancy of the water provides relief for inflamed joints. Other physicians recommend psychological therapy, in particular cognitive behavioral therapy, to help with the mental toll of chronic pain. Some patients utilize pain management medications, everything from anti-seizure medications to anti-depressants to opiates. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it is important to talk to your doctor about the right pain management system for your lifestyle.
If you have more questions about medical imaging for chronic pain conditions or fibromyalgia, feel free to use our Request an Appointment feature to schedule a consultation or call our offices at 504-833-8111 to speak with a representative of Doctors Imaging in Metairie.