What is Fibromyalgia?

At Moreton Hall Health Club there are at least 6 members and 1 member of staff who suffer from Fibromyalgia. The symptoms can not be seen - but they are very much there. If you would like to learn more about Fibromyalgia please read on go to www.ukfibromyalgia.com.

If you have a "hidden illness", exercise is part of your management routine and you want others to be aware, please contact: kirsteen@moretonhallhealthclub.co.uk

FMS (fibromyalgia (fi-bro-my-Al-juh) syndrome) is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the fibrous tissues in the body.

Most patients with fibromyalgia say that they ache all over. Their muscles may feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Sometimes the muscles twitch and at other times they burn. More women than men are afflicted with fibromyalgia, but it shows up in people of all ages.

Musculoskeletal pain and fatigue experienced by fibromyalgia syndrome patients is a chronic problem, which tends to have a waxing and waning intensity. There is currently no generally accepted cure for this condition According to recent research; most patients can expect to have this problem lifelong. However, worthwhile improvement may be obtained with appropriate treatment, as will be discussed later. There is often concern on the part of patients, and sometimes physicians, that FMS is the early phase of some more severe disease, such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc. Long-term follow up of fibromyalgia patients has shown that it is very unusual for them to develop another rheumatic disease or neurological condition. However, it is quite common for patients with "well established" rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus and Sjogren's syndrome to also have fibromyalgia.

 

Symptoms and Associated Syndromes

Pain - The pain of fibromyalgia has no boundaries. Quite often, the pain and stiffness are worse in the morning and you may hurt more in muscle groups that are used repetitively. People with FMS suffer chronic widespread pain, which can be described as burning, throbbing, shooting, or stabbing, Painful areas often include the upper back, shoulders, neck, the low back, and other areas around the joints. Many people will say, "I hurt all over."

Fatigue - This symptom can be mild in some patients and yet incapacitating in others. The fatigue has been described as "brain fatigue" in which patients feel totally drained of energy. Many patients depict this situation by saying that they feel as though their arms and legs are tied to concrete blocks, and they have difficulty concentrating. Most people with FMS complain of fatigue. It can be profound, interfering with all daily activities.

Sleep disorder - Most fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. This condition was uncovered in a sleep lab with the aid of a machine which recorded the brain waves of patients during sleep. Researchers found that fibromyalgia syndrome patients could fall asleep without much trouble, but their deep level (or stage 4) sleep was constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity.). The sleep pattern for clinically depressed patients is distinctly different from that found in FMS or CFS.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Constipation, diarrhoea, frequent abdominal pain, abdominal gas and nausea represents symptoms frequently found in roughly 40% to 70% of fibromyalgia patients.

Chronic headaches - Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches are seen in about 50% of fibromyalgia patients and can pose as a major problem in coping for this patient group.

Temporo-mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome - This syndrome, sometimes referred to as TMJD, causes tremendous face and head pain in one quarter of FMS patients.

However, a 1997 report indicates that as many as 90% of fibromyalgia patients may have jaw and facial tenderness that could produce, at least intermittently, symptoms of TMJD. Most of the problems associated with this condition are thought to be related to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint and not necessarily the joint itself.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome - Sensitivities to odours, noise, bright lights, medications and various foods is common in roughly 50% of FMS or CFS patients.

Other common symptoms - Painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea), chest pain, morning stiffness, cognitive or memory impairment, numbness and tingling sensations, muscle twitching, irritable bladder, the feeling of swollen extremities, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, frequent changes in eye prescription, dizziness, and impaired coordination can occur.

 

Exercise

A program of stretching and gentle exercise is essential for FMS patients. A member of our gym staff, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can help you put together a program that will be beneficial in maintaining muscle tone and a reasonable level of aerobic fitness. Walking, stationary exercise equipment, pool therapy, and stretching seem to be the most suitable activities for the FMS patient. The key is to start slowly and increase your exercise time and level carefully.

There is increasing evidence that a regular exercise routine is essential for all fibromyalgia syndrome patients. This is easier said than done because increased pain and fatigue caused by repetitive exertion makes regular exercise quite difficult. However, those patients who do get into an exercise regimen experience worthwhile improvement and are reluctant to give up. In general, FMS patients must avoid impact-loading exertion such as jogging, basketball, aerobics, etc. Regular walking, the use of a stationary exercise cycle and pool therapy utilizing an Aqua class or a floatation session seem to be the most suitable activities for FMS patients to pursue.

 

If you have a "hidden illness", exercise is part of your management routine and you want others to be aware, please contact: kirsteen@moretonhallhealthclub.co.uk