Fibromyalgia syndrome, which is sometimes referred to as FMS, is a musculoskeletal condition that is both very common and extremely misunderstood. Attaining proper diagnosis of the condition is a challenge, as individuals can present a wide range of different symptoms. Researchers believe that more than 12 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that women are estimated to develop the condition at a rate that is 10 times that of men. Researchers are working to determine the causes of this painful condition, and believe that a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors may lead to the development of fibromyalgia.
Patients who suffer from fibromyalgia often complain of a persistent ache throughout their body. They are also routinely fatigued and feel tired even after waking in the morning. Some patients have a hard time getting a good night’s rest, while others may experience depression or other disturbances in their mood. A common complaint is a sensation that the body's muscles have been overworked or damaged, even when there has been no excessive level of exercise or strain. Fibromyalgia can also cause sensations of pain in the joints, abdomen or head. One of the most powerful diagnostic tools available to physicians is a special blood test called an FM/a, which looks for certain markers that the immune system creates when a person has fibromyalgia. Physicians also use physical examination and a thorough health history in the diagnostic process.
There is no one standardized treatment to address fibromyalgia, which is unsurprising given the fact that patients exhibit a wide range of different symptoms. Treatment consists of addressing the specific complaints of each individual patient. That can mean a combination of prescription medications, behavioral modifications and the implementation of a targeted plan of exercise and/or stretching.
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