Fibromyalgia syndrome when muscles and limbs are permanently painful

You have had persistent pain in many areas of your body for months, sleep problems and feel exhausted? Possibly no cause was found so far. Perhaps your doctor has therefore suspected fibromyalgia syndrome and you would now like to know more about it.

At a glance

Despite severe pain and fatigue, this disease does not cause damage to muscles, joints or organs. Those affected have a normal life expectancy.

Typical complaints of fibromyalgia syndrome include: pain in several areas of the body for more than 3 months, fatigue and sleep disturbances.

The aim of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms, for example with physical training and education.

The disease

The Fibromyalgie syndrome (briefly: FMS) is a durable illness. Fibromyalgia literally means "fiber-muscle pain". Since different complaints coincide here, one speaks of a syndrome.

About 2 out of 100 people are affected by FMS, women more often than men. The symptoms usually occur between the ages of 40 and 60, less frequently in children, adolescents or in old age. To date, the cause has not been clarified. It is believed that personal predisposition, stressful life events, poorly processed stress and overwork play a role.

Although the pain is often excruciating and distressing, FMS does not cause damage to muscles, joints or organs. Life expectancy is normal.

Signs of FMS

The three most important signs of the disease are:

Pain on both sides of the body lasting longer than 3 months. At least 4 of the 5 body areas are affected: Back with chest, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg and

Tiredness, exhaustion and

Sleep disturbances, you do not feel rested.

The pain can persist, recur or migrate. They often intensify with stress, wetness, cold and prolonged sitting or lying down.

Many other signs of illness can occur with FMS, for example:

Headaches, painful tense muscles of the sternum, jaw or face

Physical symptoms, such as menstrual pain, palpitations, breathing or gastrointestinal problems

Irritation hypersensitivity, for example of the eyes, sensitivity to sounds or smells

Concentration problems or loss of performance

Mental complaints, such as nervousness, inner restlessness, dejection, or anxiety

Recognizing an FMS

Your doctor will ask you in detail about your life situation, other illnesses and your medications. Questionnaires are also used, for example about your pain.

You will then be examined physically. Usually further examinations follow, for example a blood test. This serves to exclude other illnesses, among other things joint inflammations or metabolic illnesses. For this, further specialist examinations are sometimes recommended.

Treating an FMS

The FMS is not curable. Only rarely does the pain disappear permanently and completely. However, treatment can effectively alleviate the symptoms. It depends on your personal situation.

Knowledge and training

You can learn to cope better with your complaints. In a patient training session, you will receive a lot of information about your condition and its treatment, as well as practical advice on how to improve your well-being and reduce stress.

Very effective: physical exercise

Experts recommend light endurance training, such as walking, swimming or cycling, several times a week for at least 30 minutes. Gentle strength training and functional training twice a week are also effective, for example (water) gymnastics in groups. It is important to move muscles and ligaments regularly without putting too much strain on them.

Treat accompanying mental illnesses

For psychological stress, experts also recommend psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. In addition, medications are sometimes helpful here. Studies indicate that the drug amitriptyline can help. It can be used in low doses for a certain period of time. Common side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth and headaches. If this does not work, other medicines may be considered temporarily in individual cases. Discuss this with your medical team.

Combinations for severe disease progression

If the course is severe, experts recommend combining different methods, such as endurance training and cognitive behavioral therapy. This can also include physiotherapy. Occupational therapy includes.

Treatment in a pain clinic or psychosomatic clinic may also be helpful. The following treatments often do not bring relief. Can sometimes even be harmful. For this reason, specialists do not recommend: most sleeping pills and painkillers (especially strong opioids), injections into painful parts of the body, hormones such as cortisone, and some physical procedures, for example massage, magnetic therapy, and chiropractic therapy. Experts also advise against special operations that are supposed to cure FMS.

What you can do yourself

You will probably not feel immediate success from the treatment. It may take some time to take effect.

Physical exercise is good for you. Since many exercises can be associated with pain, you should start slowly and increase only cautiously. It is best to choose something that you enjoy.

It is advisable to observe yourself. As an aid, you can note down your complaints in a diary. This will help you to find out whether or not you will benefit from treatment.

Try to keep fixed bedtimes as much as possible. Rest periods in everyday life are useful.

You can learn to relax and manage stress. Relaxation exercises and meditative movement therapies, such as Tai-Chi, Qi-Gong or yoga, can have a supportive effect here.

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