Fibromyalgia Syndrome, or FMS, is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Tender points are specific places on the body—on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and upper and lower extremities—where people with fibromyalgia feel pain in response to slight pressure. Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues.
Like arthritis, however, fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities. Also like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.
The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved. Many people associate the development of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness.
People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously. Many researchers are examining other causes, including problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain.
Some scientists speculate that a person's genes may regulate the way his or her body processes painful stimuli. According to this theory, people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. However, those genes—if they, in fact, exist—have not been identified.
A diagnosis is based on two criteria established by the ACR: a history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months and the presence of tender points. Pain is considered to be widespread when it affects all four quadrants of the body; that is, you must have pain in both your right and left sides as well as above and below the waist to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The ACR also has designated 18 sites on the body as possible tender points. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person must have 11 or more tender points. Although we have seen a change in policy on this ACRcriteria, we still below the former guidelines to be accurate.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Persons with CFS most often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before the onset of illness. In addition to these key defining characteristics, patients report various nonspecific symptoms, including weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and/or mental concentration, insomnia, and post-exertional fatigue lasting more than 24 hours. In some cases, CFS can persist for years.
Our Integrative Approach
We have developed a comprehensive personalized approach to these syndromes which addresses not only the symptoms, but long term management, and oftentimes the resolution of the syndromes. Patient Stabilization with the use of techniques that are effective in treating many facets of these symptoms. However, stabilization is actually the beginning step in the process of “peeling away” at the condition.
These would include:
- Manual therapies
- Physical therapy modalities
- Acupuncture treatment
- Lifestyle Medicine/ Weight loss
Once the patient is stable, and the necessary lifestyle changes are in place, the patient will be placed on a maintenance program.