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Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome – Reclaim Your Life!

Updated on October 24, 2011

Despite being two extremely common conditions which affect millions of people around the world today, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome are often very much misunderstood, not only by sufferers themselves and society at large, but even by many of those in the medical profession.

With an often bewildering array of symptoms which could equally well point to a variety of other conditions, it can take many months or sometimes even years for GPs and non-specialist doctors to diagnose, let alone treat either condition.In the meantime, of course, patients are left to struggle with sometimes debilitating aches and pains, not to mention stiffness, painful muscle spasms, severe and persistent fatigue, sleep disturbances, inexplicable memory loss and the inability to think clearly.

As if these symptoms weren’t enough to cope with in themselves, the ongoing batteries of tests which all come back with negative results frequently leave sufferers fearing that they are actually dealing with something far more serious and even potentially life-threatening.

Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome are both conditions for which no identifiable cause has yet been found, for which there is currently no known cure, and which sometimes occur together.

In the case of fibromyalgia, the characteristic aches and pains originate from the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body, causing tender points to develop, usually in the neck, back, shoulders, pelvis and hands.

The pain of the condition can vary considerably from one person to another and while some experience deep bodily aches, others feel stabbing or burning pains.

Typically though, fibromyalgia sufferers experience the whole range of pain types at different times and the pain often moves from one part of the body to another from day to day.

In addition to the direct symptoms of fibromyalgia though, many sufferers experience various related medical problems such as

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • painful bladder syndrome
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD)
  • restless leg syndrome
  • periodic limb movement disorder
  • intolerance to heat and/or cold
  • interstitial cystitis.

Depression and anxiety are also commonly associated with both fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome, although this is almost certainly as a result of living with high levels of continuous pain and because of the sometimes severe difficulties which arise from living with the conditions.

Despite being in some ways similar to fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome is a condition which causes persistent muscle pain which worsens over time and is believed to emanate from the fascia or connective tissues which cover the muscles.

Rather than causing tender points which feel painful when pressed as is the case with fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome creates trigger points which lead to referred or localised pain.

These trigger points can be felt under the skin as nodules or rope-like bands and they can either be active, in which case touching or pressing them causes pain to be felt in other areas of the body, or latent, in which case any pressure leads to tenderness in that particular spot.

The pain of myofascial pain syndrome is most often experienced in the neck, shoulders, lower back, pelvis, arms and legs and, like fibromyalgia, it can take different forms and it can move from one area of the body to another.

Often, sufferers of myofascial pain syndrome report certain things which trigger bouts of pain, with the overuse of muscles, direct muscle trauma resulting from accident or injury, prolonged muscle contraction such as might be experienced when engaging in a particular task for too long or even sitting for too long, changes in weather conditions, viral infections and emotional distress being some of the most common triggers.

For doctors who are less familiar with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome, both diagnosis and treatment of the conditions can be a bit of a hit and miss affair.

Diagnosis typically involves what is often a long drawn-out process of elimination, and treatment is often aimed at relieving pain with the use of analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotic pain killers.

Many of these medications, however, come with unwanted side-effects, and when used in isolation all they can really do is mask the pain anyway.

The issue of treating fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome is just one of the things that Dr Chris Jenner discusses in his book entitled Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Practical Guide to Getting on With Your Life.

As an expert in pain management who deals daily with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome patients in his roles as Medical Director at the London Pain Clinic and consultant in pain medicine at the Imperial Health Care NHS Trust in London, Dr Jenner knows better than anyone that the most effective way to treat these devastating illnesses is through a holistic treatment programme, rather than just drug therapy.

In his book, he discusses a whole range of pain reduction methods and alternative treatments which, although rarely prescribed by most medical practitioners, have proved to restore a pain-free existence and an excellent quality of life to thousands of his own patients.

Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A self-help guide
Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A self-help guide

As an expert in pain management who deals daily with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome patients the author knows that the most effective way to treat these illnesses is through a holistic treatment programme.

In his book, he discusses a whole range of pain reduction methods and alternative treatments which have proved to restore a pain-free existence and an excellent quality of life to thousands of his own patients.

 

Another tremendously important area that Dr Jenner covers in his book is the effect of fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome on various aspects of the lives of sufferers.

As anyone knows who experiences either of these conditions personally or who has lived with a sufferer, their impacts go far beyond experiencing pain.In addition to the physical consequences, most patients suffer at least some degree of emotional and psychological distress and there can be devastating knock-on effects in relation to family and close personal relationships, work and financial situations, parenting, pregnancy and even what should be the enjoyable aspects of life such as going on holiday.

Living daily with fibromyalgia and/or myofascial pain syndrome is something which is frequently ignored by doctors, and patients are typically just left to make the best of their situations.

The impact on sufferers’ everyday lives, however, is something which Dr Jenner is particularly concerned with, and it is for this reason that a considerable proportion of the book is dedicated to dealing with the practical issues that patients typically face and to offering numerous useful tips on how to live successfully with either of the conditions and how to achieve the very best quality of life.

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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Fantastic hub and a real eye opener. Ithink the moment it goes past flu and paracetomal they are lost and don't want to know. I had to battle for to years to get to a specialist. I could feel something growing in my stomach but was told it is fat. When I got him so far it turn-out a fibroyd in my womb 9 cm big and a growth on my liver.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      This is a very personal topic, since I live with fibromyalgia every single day and night. For years I have been struggling with not knowing and nobody could figure it out what was wrong, but recently I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have now got help from doctors that understands my condition. By doing mindfulness meditation it helps me to cope better with the excruciating pain I live with every day.

      Thank you for an interesting article,

      Sannel

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      7 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      I had bad calf pain a month or two ago - typical pain symptoms for a DVT but as it was ongoing for several months I knew it wasn't DVT but possibly similar. Doctor told me it was neuropathic and this all actually psychosomatic. Over the next week it disappeared... after all I knew it wasn't actually there now. I have another 2 hubs reviewing this guy's books as I was very impressed with his facts.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 

      7 years ago

      A very interesting topic. My mother suffered for years of this disorder in a long period of her life characterized by anxiety and depression. When she started to feel better from a psychologic point of view her pain is gone. Maybe because she started to cure herself, maybe because the fibromyalgia was psychosomatic, or probably for both these things.

      Thanks for sharing this page!

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