The condition is quite common with estimates that up to 1 in 25 may be affected. Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women than men.
There are often no outwardly visible signs of the condition. Widespread pain, fatigue and sleep disturbance are the main symptoms of Fibromyalgia, however other symptoms may include poor circulation, headaches, irritability, an urgent need to urinate, particularly at night, and irritable or uncomfortable bowels.
Fibromyalgia symptoms vary widely from person to person, so it is important to seek a professional diagnosis in order to begin a treatment and management plan designed for your individual needs.
St Joseph’s offers a unique ‘one stop’ service led by eminent pain management consultants and supported by a full multi-disciplinary team. Our consultants undertake a thorough analysis of the patient’s pain syndromes, optimise medication and may perform injections and advanced techniques such as radiofrequency where appropriate.
Physiotherapists are available to perform a mobility assessment, posture assessment and develop a bespoke programme to help you become more active and improve the quality of your life.
Hydrotherapy is water based therapy used in the treatment of different conditions, including Fibromyalgia.
Aqua therapy is a gentle form of body and mind therapy performed in warm water.
Acupuncture, a method of pain relief that originated in China, is also offered. Acupuncture involves stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body resulting in the body producing natural substances, such as pain relieving endorphins.
Counselling, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is offered as part of the individual’s treatment plan, along with seamless access to clinical psychology or psychiatry as needed.
We understand that managing Fibromyalgia often extends beyond the patient. Our consultants offer family counselling and advice for improving the safety of the patient.
Whilst it’s not yet known exactly what causes Fibromyalgia, research suggests that it involves physical, psychological and neurological factors.
The pain those with Fibromyalgia feel is not caused by damage or physical injury. It’s caused by the way the brain and nervous system process pain.
Research has shown that Fibromyalgia sufferers are more sensitive to physical pressure than those without the condition. Again, it is thought that this is caused by the way in which the nervous system processes pain.
Increased sensitivity may also result from sleep disturbance.
Widespread pain, fatigue and sleep disturbance are the most common symptoms, however the effects of these symptoms varies from person to person. Sufferers may also experience ‘flare-ups’.
Less frequent symptoms may include:
Fibromyalgia sufferers may also be affected by some of the following associated conditions:
Fibromyalgia is often difficult to diagnose. This is because the symptoms experienced vary from person to person and could be caused by a number of conditions and illnesses. There isn’t a simple test to confirm a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and this is why it is recommended to see an experienced, specialist consultant for advice.
A 35 year old woman with Fibromyalgia, diagnosed by her GP and Rheumatologist, attended for consultation complaining of severe, sharp shooting pains in the muscles of her arms, legs, neck and lower back when making simple movements. Her sleep was severely disturbed and she was troubled by thoughts of helplessness. She felt that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. She had experienced symptoms for two years.
At the time of her consultation with a pain management consultant at St Joseph’s Hospital her treatment included high doses of anticonvulsant Gabapentin, which had helped manage her pain, however had resulted in her becoming very forgetful and easily ‘out of balance’.
At her initial consultation she was found to be excessively drowsy, with slurred speech. After taking an extensive history and performing a clinical examination a bespoke treatment plan was developed, including an immediate change in medication. The patient then attended for a follow-up consultation two weeks later to discuss the impact of the change in medication, which in this case was positive.
The patient was referred to hydrotherapy and completed a course of six sessions, one week apart. During regular consultations she reported suffering a very traumatic event which she had kept secret up until that point. She was offered counselling and seamlessly referred without delay.
The patient benefitted from taking part in a recommended Fibromyalgia support group. Some people find comfort in knowing that they are not alone and benefit from the support of fellow Fibromyalgia sufferers.
Routine follow-up appointments were scheduled on recurrence of symptoms. The holistic approach available at the Fibromyalgia Centre resulted in the patient experiencing significant improvement in the severity and frequency of her symptoms. An on-going management and treatment plan remains in place.
St Joseph’s offers a unique ‘one stop’ Fibromyalgia service led by eminent pain management consultants and supported by a full multi-disciplinary team.
© St. Joseph's Hospital 2019