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Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that manifests as diffuse pain throughout the body, associated with fatigue and sleep disorders that can worsen to a disability. Although it is often confused with chronic fatigue, of which it shares many symptoms, it is nevertheless a affliction in its own right, affecting about 5% of the population, 80% of whom are women between 30 and 50 years of age.

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Some specific areas of the body are painful to the touch. There are specific pain points sensitive to palpation on 18 specific points. The reaction to 11 of the 18 pressure pain points is necessary for fibromyalgia to be diagnosed in a patient suffering from more than three months.

The 18 points of fibromyalgia are distributed in 9 bilateral sites

      • The suboccipital region.
      • The anterior region of the neck.
      • The region of the second ribs.
      • Trapezes
      • The origin of the supraspinatus (muscles of the posterior region of the shoulder).
      • The elbow region.
      • The upper outer quadrants of the buttocks (below and behind the iliac crest).
      • The large trochanters (bony projections at the upper end of the femur).
      • The fat pads of the knees.

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Fibromyalgia is “invisible and invincible” because it has no organic substratum detected so far neither curative treatment. It is a chronic disease and, due to its long evolution, it has a psychological, social and family impact of its own. Despite the important difficulties that illness imposes on daily life, all people infringements do not become dependent or invalid.

The patient reorganizes his activities in the new limits dictated by the disease. He can no longer “program” or “organize” his time except according to possibilities and “the energy of the moment”. The reorganization or even the reorientation of its activity professional, the maintenance of a physical activity, even reduced, are essential.

Isolation and psychological problems cause family problems due to the misunderstanding in which these patients find themselves. Divorced status is significantly more common than in the general population.

Fatigue resonates on professional and social life. Going out and leisure are gradually abandoned. The social circle of fibromyalgia thus reduces to isolation. Sometimes a vicious circle develops in which isolation, causing a depressive state, leads to more isolation. That is why the support of the entourage, the meeting of other patients and also a psychological support are very important to break this progress

What are the Causes?

It is difficult to determine the causes of fibromyalgia that are surely multiple. Nervous system sensitization has been observed, but it is unclear whether it is a cause rather than a consequence of the disease. It has also been found that fibromyalgia often occurs after a violent emotional shock, significant trauma or even a viral illness. The frequent association of sleep disorders and depression has led to the possibility of a deficit in neurohormones (hormones of the nervous system), in particular in serotonin, the hormone of mood. In addition, the existence of hereditary cases (“mothers-daughters”) could suggest the intervention of a genetic factor. Finally, researchers from massachussetts found that 50% of patients had damaged nerve fibers in the skin (especially the legs), thus evoking a neurological disease called “small fiber neuropathy”, often found in diabetics.

Fibromyalgia Treatments

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome, several treatments are to consider. They complement each other and are to be adapted to each patient. That the patient knows his diagnosis, that he is reassured and that he knows the importance of his participation are already elements of the treatment.

A sedentary lifestyle can encourage painful flare-ups. Conversely, you need to practice regular physical activity, sports, adapted to everyone, for their benefits against pain. Especially since the body remains in good working order since the disturbances only concern the pain centers.

We can help with rehabilitation sessions, stretching exercises, being wary of too deep massages that reproduce the pain. A thalassotherapy cure, or better a spa treatment, can allow the patient to start regular physical exercises. Relaxation and hypnosis are effective treatments.

Prescribed drugs belong to the family of antidepressants and antiepileptics. These drugs are not offered as such but because they have a central pain-relieving action. Prescription is done in progressive doses. The usual painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs do not have the expected effect.

Because of the chronicity of this syndrome, patients should know that the effect of the treatment is rarely spectacular and requires long-term management.