What Is Fibromyalgia?

In the broadest sense, fibromyalgia is characterised by chronic pain and areas of diffuse tenderness when being examined. Other things that sufferers may or may not experience are extreme tiredness. This often doesn’t seem to go away after a period of sleep (many fibromyalgia patients sleep very poorly too). They have difficulty controlling their mood and thinking straight, suffer with headaches, feel areas of numbness and tingling around their body, have stiff joints and are over sensitive to bright lights, smells and noises. And those are just the symptoms listed in the standard medical texts. In practice, we have seen symptoms including problems with digestion (constipation, diarrhoea and stomach pain), cold fingers / toes and irritable bladder.

What are the chances of you having it?

Statistics have been collected that show that you are more likely to get fibromyalgia if you have other family members that have fibromyalgia. If you are female. If have other chronic autoimmune joint pain or chronic pain conditions and are aged between 20 and 60 years old.

How is fibromyalgia normally diagnosed?

Trigger point maps as far as being diagnosed is concerned, in 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published a set of diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. It was based around 18 muscle and tendon ‘trigger points’. If a person has 11 out of 18 which illicit tenderness when pressed, along with pain for more than 3 months and widespread muscular pain, then that would meet the threshold for diagnosis. This is provided at all other tests and investigations were negative.

Because its not very nice having 18 painful points pressed in order to diagnose fibromyalgia, there have been more recent developments in diagnosis. These involve subjective information collected from the patient. This is now the more common way for a diagnosis to be made however it is still important that there have been no other reasons found for the symptoms.

Your joints are NOT normally swollen in fibromyalgia

If you suspect you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, we would advise you speak to your gp.

What happens once you’ve diagnosed?

Once diagnosed, it is likely that you will be prescribed some medication to help with sleep, fatigue and depression.

So how can going to an osteopath help?

As a fibromyalgia sufferer, the thought of being pulled around, cracked and prodded is probably the last thing you feel you would want done or would help you feel less pain. Well here at the London Road Osteopathy Clinic in Bath we would AGREE! An osteopathic assessment will help fully understand the range of symptoms you experience associated with fibromyalgia. Using a range of gentle techniques we will attempt to restore function to achy, stiff muscles and joints. As well as these osteopathic techniques, the session will include lifestyle advise that you can take away and continue the progress at home.

Osteopathy is proven to be an effective addition to ‘standard medical care’ in the management of fibromyalgia and osteopaths can advertise that they can help fibromyalgia sufferers.
If you would like to have osteopathic treatment for your fibromyalgia then please feel free to ring the clinic in Bath on 01225 282336.

Below are some of the academic articles we refer to in this post as well as a couple of key papers in the field.

Gamber RG, Shores JH, Russo DP, et al. Osteopathic manipulative treatment in conjunction with medication relieves pain associated with fibromyalgia syndrome: results of a randomized clinical pilot project. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2002 Jun;102(6):321-5.

Goldenberg DL, Burckhardt C, Crofford L. Management of fibromyalgia syndrome. JAMA. 2004;292:2388-2395.

Rooks DS. Fibromyalgia treatment update. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2007;19:111-117.

Wolfe F, Smythe HA, Yunus MB, et al. The American College of Rheumatology 1990 criteria for the classification of fibromyalgia. Report of the Multicenter Criteria Committee. Arthritis Rheum. 1990;33:160-172.