What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a condition of chronic pain affecting large areas of the body. It is relatively common: about 1 in 25 people will be affected. This condition is not linked to any inflammatory or degenerative condition, and is normally diagnosed once these types of condition have been ruled out. There is evidence to suggest an association with poor sleep patterns, or periods of emotional stress or anxiety.
The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain, extreme tiredness and difficulty sleeping. The symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may experience good and bad days. You may also experience problems with memory and concentration – some fibromyalgia sufferers describe it like a “brain fog.”
How is fibromyalgia treated?
Treatments involve physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychology and drug treatments for pain. You may be referred to a multidisciplinary pain clinic for overall management of the condition. Analgesia such as paracetamol may be helpful for the pain, however the is little evidence that strong opiates (such as morphine or tramadol) work particularly well, and should be avoided for long term pain management.
Drugs such as pregabalin and gabapentin have been shown to help with nerve pain in fibromyalgia, and there can be some benefit from antidepressants such as a low dose of amitriptyline. Your doctor will be able to provide more information about these treatments.
Where can I find out more about fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia Action UK
- Patient booklet – useful information for fibromyalgia patients and their carers
- Benefits – a guide to claiming benefits for fibromyalgia sufferers
Arthritis Research UK
- Fibromyalgia – extensive fibromyalgia information page from Arthritis Research UK