What Is Fibromyalgia?
Many people may recognize the name fibromyalgia, but few really know what it is. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to diagnose or even really define. In fact, it’s often not even a true diagnosis—sometimes, doctors can simply rule out every other cause of pain, all that’s left is fibromyalgia. Second, there’s no cure for fibromyalgia, and there’s no way of telling when the pain is going to flare up. Sometimes it’s triggered by stress, sometimes it’s excessive activity, sometimes it’s even eating certain foods. In addition to random pain and tenderness in the joints and other areas, fibromyalgia symptoms also include extreme tiredness, stress, and depression. All of this can make the pain seem even worse.
What is Fibromyalgia?
If you have pain and tender points throughout your body, you’ve probably gone to the doctor. But after going through test after test, he may tell you that since he can’t find any other cause, you probably have fibromyalgia. This is how most fibromyalgia patients are “diagnosed” with the disease—there’s no easy, proven test for fibromyalgia, so it’s often determined through the process of elimination. If doctors can’t find anything else causing the pain, fibromyalgia is often blamed. It’s only diagnosed through its symptoms and the elimination of any other ailment. However, there are some guidelines laid out by the American College of Rheumatology for what is and isn’t fibromyalgia.
First, the pain has to occur in three of the four quadrants of the body: upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right. If there’s only pain in one quadrant, something else is usually to blame. Second, the pain has to have been consistent or recurring for at least three months. Fibromyalgia symptoms can come and go, often without any warning, but they have to occur for several months in order to rule out other causes.
In the past, diagnosis also relied on having pain in 11 of the 18 of the fibromyalgia tender points. However, because pain often comes and goes, patients who had pain in 5 tender points one day may have pain in 13 of them the next. It was also difficult to decide how much pressure on a tender point needed to be applied. This test is still sometimes done, but doctors now make a fibromyalgia diagnoses based on pain, fatigue, and lack of other ailment.
Tips for Preventing Flare ups Through Diet
The first thing you should do is cut out or cut back on caffeine. It’s been shown to make fibromyalgia pain worse and to make the flare-ups occur more often. Replace soda and caffeinated coffee and tea with water whenever possible.
Add more Vitamin D-rich foods to your diet. Studies have shown that Vitamin D can help reduce the swelling and muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia. You may also want to take Vitamin D supplements during the winter or if you don’t get out in the sunlight very often.
Foods that have a lot of preservatives and sodium can make the swelling even worse, so you should do your best to avoid these foods. Also try to cut out anything with MSG or aspartame because they, too, can contribute to muscle swelling and pain.
Fish, especially fish like salmon and tuna, can help reduce inflammation, too. They prevent muscle stiffness and soreness as well and can also help prevent some cardiovascular diseases. Fish help keep the brain and heart healthy.
Other Ways of Managing the Pain
Doctors often aren’t certain what types of drugs to give people. Many of the powerful pain killers that help stop the pain are also very addictive or have other side effects. Exercise can help somewhat, too, but movement often only makes the pain worse, and many people have trouble working through the pain. Antidepressants, some anti-seizure medications, and even human growth hormones have all shown to help those with fibromyalgia, but they all have some side effects and may not work for everyone.
You may also want to start taking a supplement that contains graviola. Research has shown that a graviola supplement may be able to provide you with a number of benefits.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.