Fibromyalgia Fact and Fiction
Fibromyalgia: Separating Facts from Fiction
Even as fibromyalgia becomes more widely recognized, a number of misconceptions about the disorder and its management persist. This misinformation complicates the diagnosis and treatment of this disabling condition and can interfere with patients' ability to receive appropriate and effective care.
Fiction: Fibromyalgia is not a legitimate disorder.
Fact: Many people believe that the diagnosis is applied when no conclusive evidence of any other disorder is found, rather than based upon affirmative testing. However, established diagnostic criteria from the American College of Rheumatology guide physicians in identifying the disorder. Although the complaints of patients suffering from this condition are subjective and not visible on via scans or blood work the disorder can be identified and treated based on these criteria.
Fiction: The symptoms are all in the patient's mind.
Fact: Perhaps the most pervasive and harmful myth about the condition, this belief persists in some circles despite medical consensus to the contrary. While doctors and researchers are still unraveling the mechanisms that cause the disorder, advances in recent years have identified differences in the way patients process signals in the brain. These differences cause over sensitivity to and an exaggerated experience of sensations including pressure and pain. The prescription of anti-depressants as part of treatment regimens sometimes reinforces this myth, but depression is a common symptom of any chronic pain disorder.
Fiction: Few people suffer from this disorder.
Fact: Estimates put the number of diagnosed cases in the United States alone at approximately five million. Women account for a disproportionate share of these cases but men and children can also develop the disorder.
Fiction: Because there is no cure, patients have no choice but to learn to live with their symptoms.
Fact: Although no cure exists, there are drug treatments that can help sufferers to manage the condition. Medications may be prescribed which can greatly improve the patient's quality of life. Other pain management techniques, such as meditation, can be helpful in controlling symptoms. Some patients also report improvement after making changes to their dietary habits. The lack of a surgical or pharmaceutical cure does not mean patients have to suffer without relief.
Treatments centers of fibromyalgia all over America are working to identify the causes of this chronic condition and develop new and more effective treatments for managing its symptoms. Research, awareness, and education can not only dispel the common misconceptions about this debilitating and chronic condition, they can also improve quality of life for patients suffering from its effects.
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