Fibromyalgia is not a joint disease, but a musculoskeletal disorder

This post is edited by Giovanni Minisola, president emeritus of the Italian Society of Rheumatology

In Italy, there are at least 2 million people, mostly women. The Fibromyalgia is manifested by widespread pain in the muscles, joints and bones. Its symptoms can make one think of a joint disease. In fact, fibromyalgia has nothing to do with arthritis and does not cause deformity in the wrists, elbows, knees, fingers or ankles.

The pains related to fibromyalgia are so intense that often those who suffer from the disorder have the feeling of carrying an unbearable burden on themselves. Hence the definition of illness of Atlas, the name of the mythological Greek giant rebel to Zeus who was condemned to hold the world on his shoulders.

The symptoms that characterize the disease are:

  1. generalized pain;
  2. sleep disorders;
  3. headache;
  4. fatigue;
  5. joint stiffness;
  6. irritable colon;
  7. formicolii;
  8. menstrual disorders;
  9. feeling of swelling in the hands;
  10. anxiety.

Fibromyalgics also often have psychic problems, involving the affective sphere, and mood changes.

Who, like the fibromyalgic subject, lives with chronic pain may feel more easily depressed because of the persistence of symptoms and the difficulty in treating them.

In fibromyalgic patients the pain threshold is reduced due to an alteration in the modalities of transmission and perception of painful stimuli at the level of the central nervous system.

Fibromyalgia is sometimes diagnosed late and with difficulty because the symptoms are generic and often similar to those of other diseases, not only of a rheumatic nature.

There are many different factors that can trigger fibromyalgia in a predisposed subject: among these, stressful events, a disease, excessive fatigue of the body and mind, repeated microtrauma to the muscles.

It is the specialist rheumatologist, with the indispensable collaboration of the family doctor, to establish the “care plan” most suitable for each individual person.

Often to treat fibromyalgia requires a global approach that involves the involvement of more professionals: the rheumatologist, first of all, but also the rehabilitation therapist, the neuropsychiatrist and the psychologist.

In the case of fibromyalgia, drugs that reduce pain and improve sleep quality are often, but not always successfully, prescribed.

Antidepressants, muscle relaxants and anticonvulsants are drugs that have proven to be more effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia over the years. Contraindicated cortisone.

Exercise programs are often associated with pharmacological treatment to relax and reduce muscle tension.

It is always good to avoid humidity and perform regular aerobic activity with low or no impact

Physical activity is usually associated with a cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps the patient to live with the disease, to understand it and to accept it.

In all cases, a good doctor-patient relationship is essential.

The answers to the questions are general and indicative. To obtain a detailed opinion, we always recommend hearing your family doctor know the general clinical picture of the patient.

We ask the writer to specify in the subject line the specialist to whom he wishes to contact, but above all to have a little patience. The answer will not be immediate because the questions that come to our experts are many and you can not answer all in real time. The editorial staff will take care to give priority to questions whose answer may be of general interest to all users.

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