Yup, it’s me again. I loved all your responses to the last post about sleeping! It truly does help knowing we are not alone in this battle we are in!
As I am writing this post, I have the overwhelming urge to go back to sleep! Again. Considering all the sleep I have had lately, it still surprises me that I am so fatigued. Yet, I made myself get out today and get a few things. By the time I got back home, I was totally wiped!
Now I am sitting here with my puddy tat in my lap, in the recliner, and will probably fall asleep once I sign off. At some point I truly would like a day with no fatigue or pain. Just one! Yeah, I know, pity party for one here. I just wish I could do the things I want or need to do!!! That being said, I am thankful to have another day of life and I really do appreciate it! Even on these bad days, I am thankful to know that at least I am here! There are others who would trade me the chance if they could.
I hope you are all well and happy today! I am up and down. I will survive this day (hopefully) and think about a better day tomorrow! Keep the comments coming! I love to read your comments. Please do not feel neglected if I do not respond to each of them. Some days it is hard enough just to post and if I missed replying to your comments, please know that I read each of them and when the energy is there, I respond. Just have had a bit of bad flaring so not all that “chatty” online. It really means a lot to me when you share because I know that I am not alone too! Thanks to you all for your comments, encouragement and personal stories! ~Jen
I started this information with what I gathered from the LFA’s website. Now let’s see that another website says about this subject. I got this information from www.hopkinslupus.org. It is another interesting article on this subject.
Lupus can affect both the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system. Lupus may attack the nervous system via antibodies that bind to nerve cells or the blood vessels that feed them, or by interrupting the blood flow to nerves.
The most common manifestation of neuro-lupus is cognitive dysfunction, which is characterized by clouded thinking, confusion, and impaired memory. Eighty percent of lupus patients who have had lupus for ten years or more will experience this condition. Single positron emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans of SLE patients with cognitive dysfunction show abnormalities in blood flow, indicating that the condition may be the result of decreased oxygen delivery to certain parts of the brain. Unfortunately, there is no real treatment for cognitive dysfunction. Normally, it does not get worse over time. However, some people find that counseling and other forms of cognitive therapy help them to cope with associated symptoms.
About 20% of patients with lupus have migraine-like headaches. These headaches are different from “lupus headaches,” which are due to active lupus and require a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) or blood vessel study (MRA or CT-angiogram) for diagnosis. A true lupus headache usually requires corticosteroids for treatment. Non-lupus migraine headaches should be treated with a migraine prevention diet. [A copy of this diet can be found in the article “Migraine Prevention Diet” under this heading.] However, when diet alone becomes insufficient, medications such as nortriptyline can be used to reduce headache frequency and severity.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain sensitization disorder characterized by widespread tenderness, general fatigue, and non-restful sleep. Doctors do not currently know the cause of fibromyalgia, but it is believed to result from a rewiring of pain pathways that lead to the spinal cord and brain. As a result, the central nervous system experiences an increased sensitivity to pain signals. Many people with lupus have fibromyalgia; in fact, much of the pain that people with lupus feel is due to this condition. To check for fibromyalgia, your doctor may touch several points on the muscles of your body. People with fibromyalgia often feel pain when light pressure is applied to these areas, whereas people without the condition feel little discomfort.
Three drugs are currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of fibromyalgia: pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran HCl (Savella). While these drugs can help to reduce discomfort by about 25%, there are many things that you can do on your own to help ease and manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some people believe that limiting their daily activities helps to reduce pain and fatigue. In fact, doctors recommend that people with fibromyalgia continue to engage in regular daily activities. Scheduling short daily rest times may help you to keep a normal schedule. However, spending too many hours resting may make your symptoms worse.
In addition, since responses to stress can cause physical symptoms such as headache, increased pain, and muscle tension, try to practice stress management skills. There are some stressors that you can control, and there are some that are simply out of your hands. Focus on what you can control, and direct your energy toward future growth.
Try to practice a healthy lifestyle. Research has shown that light stretching activities such as Tai Chi and yoga can help to relax muscles and improve some of the pain associated with fibromyalgia. In addition, molecules called endorphins that are released by your brain after exercise—usually about 30 minutes of moderate or intense activity—help you to achieve a ‘natural high,’ and many people report that exercise simply makes them feel better overall. Other lifestyle elements, such as a supportive social network and a healthy diet, can also help to ease feelings of emotional and physical discomfort and promote an overall sense of well-being. If you feel you need more help in managing your fibromyalgia, your doctor can assist you in devising coping strategies.
Organic Brain Syndrome
Organic brain syndrome is a general term referring to physical disorders that cause impaired brain function. Other names are cerebritis, encephalopathy, and acute confusional state. This condition is usually diagnosed through lumbar puncture (spinal tap) or EEG (the recording of brain waves), and before the diagnosis is made, the doctor will likely rule out certain causes, such as drug use, infection, cancer, or metabolic problems. If the condition is confirmed to be caused by lupus, high dose steroids will be used to combat its effects.
CNS vasculitis is a very rare SLE complication caused by inflammation of the blood vessels of the brain. It is diagnosed by a blood vessel study (brain MRA or CT-angiogram) and requires treatment with high dose steroids.
- Wallace, Daniel J. “Heady Connections: The Nervous System and Behavioral Changes.” The Lupus Book: A Guide for Patients and Their Families. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 99-115.
- “How Lupus Affects the Body: Nervous System.” Lupus Foundation of America. 1 July 2009..
Since the beast of fibromyalgia has reared its ugly head in my body recently, I decided to review the basic facts of fibromyalgia (fm). I always feel that knowledge is more powerful than ignorance so in my quest for the information, I found this website which has a great description of the basic information of fm. I got this from the website www.prohealth.com. You can find more information there. Here is their article:
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances. It was originally thought to be a musculoskeletal disorder since most of the pain was felt in the muscles and other soft tissues. However, recent research and the advancement of brain-imaging technology is revealing that fibromyalgia is actually a disorder of the central nervous system, which causes abnormal pain processing and results in pain amplification.
The three primary symptoms that are common to almost everyone with fibromyalgia are pain, fatigue and sleep disorders.
Pain: Pain is usually the most prominent symptom of fibromyalgia. FM pain is chronic and widespread, affecting all four quadrants of the body, although not necessarily at the same time. Its intensity may range from mild to profound. FM pain tends to migrate, sometimes affecting one part of the body and sometimes another. Patients also report that their bodies ache all over, much like having the flu. In addition to the aching, FM pain has been described by different people as burning, throbbing, sharp, stabbing or shooting pain. Most people with FM also complain of feeling stiff and achy when they wake up.
Fatigue: While everyone knows what it feels like to be tired, the fatigue experienced by fibromyalgia patients is so much more. It’s a pervasive, all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with even the most basic and simple daily activities. Another feature of FM fatigue is that it is not relieved by rest.
Sleep Disorders: Most people with fibromyalgia have problems with sleep. They report having difficulty getting to sleep, waking up frequently throughout the night, and not feeling refreshed when they get up in the morning. Studies have shown that FM patients spend little to no time in deep, stage four sleep because their sleep is repeatedly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity. Since deep sleep is the time during which the body replenishes itself, fibromyalgia patients are not able to get the restorative sleep their bodies need. In turn, this lack of deep sleep can result in making their pain and fatigue worse.
Other Symptoms: Most fibromyalgia patients also report a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, which may include allergies, irritable bowel, irritable bladder, headaches, migraines, dizziness, numbness and tingling, sensitivity to cold or heat, depression, restless legs syndrome, chemical or environmental sensitivities, impaired balance or coordination, dry eyes and mouth, vision problems, or problems with memory, concentration and cognitive functioning.
(For more information about specific symptoms, see “Common Symptoms“)
Who is at Risk for Developing Fibromyalgia?
Adult women appear to be at greater risk for developing fibromyalgia than men or children, however, it can affect all ages and both sexes. Historically, 75 to 90 percent of people diagnosed with FM have been women, but new information may eventually change those figures.
FM experts are finding that men often have fewer than the traditional 11 tender points required for diagnosis, yet meet all the other criteria for fibromyalgia. And what was once thought to be “growing pains” in children may turn out to be a previously unrecognized form of FM.
Although fibromyalgia will probably still occur most frequently in adult women, we may soon discover it affects significantly more men and children than once thought.
Another risk factor may be family history, as there is growing evidence of a genetic component in fibromyalgia. If someone in your family has FM, you may be at greater risk of developing it yourself.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
Fibromyalgia (FM) should be diagnosed by a qualified physician who is familiar with the illness and has experience diagnosing and treating it. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology established the research criteria for fibromyalgia, which are now the criteria most commonly used to diagnose it.
For a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, both of the following must be present:
- A history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and
- Pain in at least 11 of 18 designated tender points when four kilograms (about 10 pounds) of pressure are applied.
According to the American College of Rheumatology fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion. However, there are several other illnesses that have similar symptoms, so it is important that the doctor test for certain comorbid conditions as well. Which particular tests may be necessary will depend upon the individual patient’s symptoms and medical history.
In the past few years scientists have made tremendous progress unraveling the mysteries of fibromyalgia. Although there is still some disagreement as to the cause of FM, there is little disagreement that its onset is usually triggered by some form of trauma. The trauma may be physical, in the form of an injury or illness, or it could be an emotional trauma that produces severe, prolonged stress.
Current research seems to indicate that some people have a genetic predisposition to fibromyalgia, although the symptoms usually do not show up until triggered by one of these traumas.
One popular theory as to the cause of fibromyalgia is that a trauma or significant stressor turns on an individual’s “fight-or-flight” response. This response, designed to help us function in an emergency situation, usually only lasts a short time, then turns itself off.
But when the stress becomes prolonged, the fight-or-flight response gets stuck in the “on” position and the person’s body remains in a state of high alert. Being in a constant state of high alert puts even more stress on the body. This results in, among other things, a loss of deep, restorative sleep, which in turn causes pain amplification throughout the body.
Regardless of what initially triggers the illness, research has shown that fibromyalgia patients have very real physical abnormalities, including:
- Decreased blood flow to specific areas of the brain, particularly the thalamus region, which may help explain the pain sensitivity and cognitive functioning problems fibromyalgia patients experience.
- High levels of “substance P,” a central nervous system neurotransmitter involved in pain processing.
- Low levels of nerve growth factor.
- Low levels of somatomedin C, a hormone that promotes bone and muscle growth.
- Low levels of several neurochemicals: serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and cortisol.
- Low levels of phosphocreatine and adenosine, muscle-cell chemicals.
Since the cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery, most treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and improving quality of life. Most patients find that a multi-disciplined approach using a combination of prescription medications, alternative/complementary therapies, gentle exercise and lifestyle adaptations seems to work best.
Unfortunately, finding which medications, therapies, etc. work best for a particular patient is generally a matter of trial and error. What helps one patient may not help another. It’s important that the patient, doctor and other healthcare professionals work together as a team to develop an individualized treatment plan.
(For more information about different treatment options, see”Treatment Modalities.” )
Choosing a Doctor
If you have a primary care physician with whom you’ve established a good rapport, discuss your concerns regarding fibromyalgia. Chances are she has other patients with the same illness, but if not, provide her with information you’ve found helpful. She may or may not remain the gatekeeper in your care, but she should be able to help you find a physician who is familiar with fibromyalgia and able to help you.
In the past, rheumatologists were the specialists who diagnosed and treated fibromyalgia. However, since research is indicating that FM is most likely a central nervous system problem, some rheumatologists are no longer taking FM patients. Check with the rheumatologists in your area to see if they will treat fibromyalgia. Logically, if FM is a central nervous system issue, neurologists would be the specialists that should treat it. Unfortunately, most neurologists are reluctant to add fibromyalgia to their practices. A few, however, have jumped on board. Again, check with the neurologists in your area to see if they will treat FM.
If your doctor is not knowledgeable about FM and is not able to recommend someone, your best resource for finding a doctor who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia in your area is probably a local support group. (Check ProHealth’s Support Group Listing to find a group near you. ) FM message boards are also a good place to ask if anyone knows of a good doctor in your area. (Visit ProHealth’s FM message board.)
Talking with family and friends may shed some light on your search as well. Hearing of a physician with compassion, one who spends time with patients and listens, goes far when making a decision. Overall, you want to find a physician who is committed to learning as much as she can about the condition so she can provide you with the best possible care.
Do a little research on the doctors you are considering. First, check with your insurance carrier to find out which health care providers are covered by your plan. If there aren’t any suitable doctors in your plan, inquire about out-of-network coverage and charges. Next, check out the doctor’s medical credentials and whether there have been any malpractice suits or disciplinary actions against her. Below are just a few resources to help you begin your research:
- American Medical Association’s Doctor Finder includes physician profiling information such as medical school, training and specialty.
- The American Board of Medical Specialties will tell you if your doctor is board certified and in what specialties. “Board certified” means the doctor has completed two additional years of training and passed a national examination. “Board eligible” means the training, but not the test, has been completed.
- Contact your state’s Board of Medical Examiners to find out about any history of malpractice suits.
- Find out how other patients feel about a doctor you are considering. There are several Web sites, like RateMDs.com where patients rate their doctors. This particular site covers doctors and dentists in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India.
As with any chronic illness, navigating your way within the medical world will require you to be your own advocate. This means being proactive about your care, staying informed, and being organized about your needs during each appointment. This is not an easy road, and balancing the medical, insurance and care aspects of your health is going to require clarity and work on your part.
Seldom is fibromyalgia a solitary illness. Most FM patients have one or more comorbid (related) conditions. Which came first is one of those chicken and egg questions.
Why do people with FM usually have so many other disorders? The answer to that may be found in a new paradigm proposed several years ago by Dr. Muhammad Yunus. He suggests that many of these related illnesses could be classified as Central Sensitivity Syndromes. Basically, this means that the central nervous system becomes hypersensitive, which stresses the rest of the body and can eventually lead to any number of different disorders. (See “Are Fibromyalgia and Other Chronic Conditions Associated?” for more information on Central Sensitivity Syndrome.)
Some of the related conditions that fibromyalgia patients may have include:
- Migraine disease
- Restless legs syndrome
- ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Chiari malformation
- Intermittent cervical cord compression
- Cervical stenosis
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Sleep apnea
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Sjogren’s disease
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Multiple chemical sensitivity
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Gulf War Syndrome
Ok, the down time from the title of this post that probably sprang to your mind is a vacation, holiday or something along that line. How great would that be? To take a break and have some fun!
Sad to day, this down time I am talking about is not that type. When you have an autoimmune disease like lupus, one of the most frustrating symptoms is the “toxic” fatigue you can suffer at the drop of a hat. I know, fatigue is not bad, it just means you have worked hard and deserve to rest, right?
Wrong. The type of fatigue I am discussing is the all consuming, total shut down of your body where you have no control of when and how long you will be down. That is the fatigue I have had for the last five days.
It started innocently enough, just sleeping in one day. Or so I thought. It soon manifested itself into high gear and as of today, I have only been awake a total of about 20 hours in five days! No kidding! I mean, I sit in my chair for a few minutes and next thing I know, hubs is waking me up after several hours of me sleeping. I mean, I wonder when it happened and how. It is like a light switch has been flipped. I am “on” and suddenly I am “off”. It is utterly strange and scary when you have this happen.
I did call my rheumy and he said he thinks it may be both fibromyalgia and/or lupus acting up. He is hesitant to prescribe prednisone in case it is the fibromyalgia. He wants to see me on friday. Great… now another of my autoimmunes is acting up too? So in the meantime, I am taking ultram for the pain and waiting for friday. Some days I think I have forgotten how to feel “normal”.
So, as I sit here, or should I say “sleep” here, I hope things will work out and I can feel better soon. Have any of you had this toxic fatigue?
This article is dated from July 2009. I saw this article and since so many of us with autoimmune diseases are treated with these types of pain meds, I thought it worthy of posting here. I understand the reasonings for lowering the amount of acetaminophen in these combination drugs and I hope it works out well. Enjoy the read! From Time Magazine’s webpage.
FDA Advises Lower Dosage for Popular Painkiller
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended on June 30 that the maximum over-the-counter dose of the popular pain reliever acetaminophen be lowered and that the current maximum single dose of the drug be available by prescription only.
Acetaminophen, more commonly known by the brand name Tylenol, is one of the most frequently used pain and fever relievers in the U.S. It has the advantage of not causing stomach bleeding or other gastrointestinal side effects that other popular pain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can cause. Acetaminophen is also found in several cold- and cough-remedy products as well as in prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet. (Read “The Year in Medicine 2008: From A to Z.”)
But despite its widespread use, there have been growing concerns about the non-prescription drug‘s effects on the liver. The 13-member FDA committee convened specifically to address liver toxicities due to acetaminophen overdose. The group of doctors and patient representatives concluded that the daily maximum dose of acetaminophen should be reduced from the current allowable 4 g and that the maximum single over-the-counter level be set at 650 mg, down from the current 1,000 mg.
Experts stress that taken as recommended, the drug is safe. But because the agent is present in so many over-the-counter medications, there is the potential that users can unintentionally overdose. “People might be taking Tylenol and taking a combination cold product that also has Tylenol in it, and Vicodin, which also has Tylenol in it, and start combining medications and not realizing they are taking that much acetaminophen,” says Dr. Michelle Ruha, a medical toxicologist at Banner Good Samaritan Poison Control Center in Phoenix. (See the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2008.)
Since 1998, acetaminophen-containing products have carried a warning label advising users to consult their physician when using the pain reliever in combination with alcohol. In 2002, the medication earned a warning advising users to avoid taking more than two acetaminophen-containing products at the same time. Nevertheless, in a study of adverse event reports submitted to the FDA since the 2002 label change, the number of liver problems has doubled, says Bill Soller, a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, who conducted the survey. “People don’t read labels, and physicians aren’t doing the communication in the office,” Soller says. “At some point, when you find the labels don’t work, then you’ve got to bump it up to the next level.”
That’s what the committee’s conclusions represent — a strong message that as safe as acetaminophen is, it can be made safer, to help people avoid accidental overdoses. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Tylenol’s manufacturer, disagrees, citing 150 clinical studies on the drug’s safety if taken as recommended. In a statement, the company said, “McNeil Consumer Healthcare strongly disagrees with the committee’s recommendation. McNeil Consumer Healthcare believes that this recommendation is likely to lead to more serious adverse events as consumers shift to other over-the-counter products … in search of pain relief.” (See the most common hospital mishaps.)
There’s no guarantee that the FDA will actually follow the advisory committee’s advice and reduce the over-the-counter dose of acetaminophen. And even if the agency does, some experts aren’t convinced that the move will lead to fewer liver toxicities associated with the medication. “Honestly, I don’t think that is going to solve the problem,” says Ruha. “Most of the problem is with the prescription pain medications that contain acetaminophen.” Many people using drugs such as Vicodin or Percocet still don’t feel relief from their pain and either abuse their prescription or supplement with an over-the-counter medication. “The patients we see coming to our hospital from liver failure have either intentionally overdosed or taken too many prescription pain medications with acetaminophen in them,” she says.
Still, if the FDA does decides to follow the committee’s advice, it would represent an aggressive attempt to address the growing problem of liver problems associated with the non-prescription painkiller — one that goes beyond simply adding another warning label on a pill box.
I wanted to post about this because I also have this as an overlapping disease with lupus. I know many who have both as well. I found this information on mayoclinic.com. Hope you read it and will have a better understanding when you are done. Always discuss any issues with your doctor.
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|Fibromyalgia tender points|
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain.
Fibromyalgia occurs in about 2 percent of the population in the United States. Women are much more likely to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age. Fibromyalgia symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event.
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary, depending on the weather, stress, physical activity or even the time of day.
Widespread pain and tender points
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of your body, called tender points. Tender point locations include:
- Back of the head
- Between shoulder blades
- Top of shoulders
- Front sides of neck
- Upper chest
- Outer elbows
- Upper hips
- Sides of hips
- Inner knees
Fatigue and sleep disturbances
People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they seem to get plenty of sleep. Experts believe that these people rarely reach the deep restorative stage of sleep. Sleep disorders that have been linked to fibromyalgia include restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Restless legs syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. These may include:
- Genetics. Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.
- Infections. Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.
Why does it hurt?
Current thinking centers around a theory called central sensitization. This theory states that people with fibromyalgia have a lower threshold for pain because of increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals.
Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.
Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
- Your sex. Fibromyalgia occurs more often in women than in men.
- Age. Fibromyalgia tends to develop during early and middle adulthood. But it can also occur in children and older adults.
- Disturbed sleep patterns. It’s unclear whether sleeping difficulties are a cause or a result of fibromyalgia. But people with sleep disorders — such as nighttime muscle spasms in the legs, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea — often have fibromyalgia.
- Family history. You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a relative also has the condition.
- Rheumatic disease. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia isn’t progressive and generally doesn’t lead to other conditions or diseases. It can, however, lead to pain, depression and lack of sleep. These problems can then interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job, or maintain close family or personal relationships. The frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition also can be a complication of the condition.
Preparing for your appointment
Because many of the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to various other disorders, you may see several doctors before receiving a diagnosis. Your family physician may refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
What you can do
You may want to write a list that includes:
- Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
- Information about medical problems you’ve had in the past
- Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
- All the medications and dietary supplements you take
- Questions you want to ask the doctor
What to expect from your doctor
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may check your neurological health by testing your:
- Muscle strength
- Muscle tone
- Senses of touch and sight
Tests and diagnosis
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|Fibromyalgia tender points|
The American College of Rheumatology has established two criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia:
- Widespread pain lasting at least three months
- At least 11 positive tender points — out of a total possible of 18
During your physical exam, your doctor may check specific places on your body for tenderness. The amount of pressure used during this exam is usually just enough to whiten the doctor’s fingernail bed. These 18 tender points are a hallmark for fibromyalgia.
While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include:
- Complete blood count
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Thyroid function tests
Treatments and drugs
In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health.
Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include:
- Analgesics. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may ease the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia. However, its effectiveness varies. Tramadol (Ultram) is a prescription pain reliever that may be taken with or without acetaminophen. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) — in conjunction with other medications. NSAIDs haven’t proved to be as effective in managing the pain in fibromyalgia when taken by themselves.
- Antidepressants. Your doctor may prescribe amitriptyline to help promote sleep. Fluoxetine (Prozac) in combination with amitriptyline is effective in some people. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) may help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. And milnacipran (Savella) was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Anti-seizure drugs. Medications designed to treat epilepsy are often useful in reducing certain types of pain. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is sometimes helpful in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms, while pregabalin (Lyrica) is the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia.
- Physical therapy. Specific exercises can help restore muscle balance and may reduce pain. Stretching techniques and the application of hot or cold also may help.
- Counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy seeks to strengthen your belief in your abilities and teaches you methods for dealing with stressful situations. Therapy is provided through individual counseling, classes, and with tapes, CDs or DVDs, and may help you manage your fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Self-care is critical in the management of fibromyalgia.
- Reduce stress. Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. That may mean learning how to say no without guilt. But try not to change your routine completely. People who quit work or drop all activity tend to do worse than those who remain active. Try stress management techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises or meditation.
- Get enough sleep. Because fatigue is one of the main characteristics of fibromyalgia, getting sufficient sleep is essential. In addition to allotting enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.
- Exercise regularly. At first, exercise may increase your pain. But doing it regularly often decreases symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, biking and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.
- Pace yourself. Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days, you may have more bad days.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake. Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.
Complementary and alternative therapies for pain and stress management aren’t new. Some, such as meditation and yoga, have been practiced for thousands of years. But their use has become more popular in recent years, especially with people who have chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia.
Several of these treatments do appear to safely relieve stress and reduce pain, and some are gaining acceptance in mainstream medicine. But many practices remain unproved because they haven’t been adequately studied. Some of the more common complementary and alternative treatments promoted for pain management include:
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a Chinese medical system based on restoring normal balance of life forces by inserting very fine needles through the skin to various depths. According to Western theories of acupuncture, the needles cause changes in blood flow and levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and spinal cord. Some studies indicate that acupuncture helps relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, while others show no benefit.
- Chiropractic care. This treatment is based on the philosophy that restricted movement in the spine may lead to pain and reduced function. Spinal adjustment (manipulation) is one form of therapy chiropractors use to treat restricted spinal mobility. The goal is to restore spinal movement and, as a result, improve function and decrease pain. Chiropractors manipulate the spine from different positions using varying degrees of force. Manipulation doesn’t need to be forceful to be effective. Chiropractors may also use massage and stretching to relax muscles that are shortened or in spasm. Because manipulation has risks, always go to properly trained and licensed practitioners.
- Massage therapy. This is one of the oldest methods of health care still in practice. It involves use of different manipulative techniques to move your body’s muscles and soft tissues. The therapy aims to improve blood circulation in the muscle, increasing the flow of nutrients and eliminating waste products. Massage can reduce your heart rate, relax your muscles, improve range of motion in your joints and increase production of your body’s natural painkillers. It often helps relieve stress and anxiety. Although massage is almost always safe, avoid it if you have open sores, acute inflammation or circulatory problems.
This problem or fog is something many of us have had to learn to live with. We all have different ways to cope. I personally keep all my appointments in my blackberry and if it is not in there, it doesn’t get done. I need to start making lists too, since I start one thing and then divert to another, then another until I forget what I originally was doing. It can be very frustrating knowing something is “in there” but you cannot access it. Your family and friends may think you are wierd, but this is a legitimate manifestation of those who suffer from lupus. This article is well written and helps explain more about it. Enjoy!
This information was obtained from www.lupus.org.
Memory Loss and “Lupus Fog”
The term “lupus fog” is almost universally known to people with lupus. The phrase reflects the difficulty that you may have in completing once-familiar tasks, such as remembering names and dates, keeping appointments, balancing your checkbook, or processing your thoughts. Properly termed “cognitive dysfunction” or “cognitive impairment,” this inability to recall information can be extremely frustrating. These symptoms may come and go, but may also be continuous, making school or work difficult or even impossible in extreme cases. People with both lupus and fibromyalgia are even more likely to experience cognitive problems.
If you are experiencing these signs of confusion and memory loss, you may benefit from the skills of a cognitive therapist, either a psychologist or speech-language pathologist. These professionals can help you develop coping techniques and strategies to improve concentration and overcome these difficulties. These techniques may include puzzles, games, biofeedback, using a daily appointment calendar, balancing activities to avoid stress, etc. Cognitive therapists can also explain how to use memory aids and decrease distractions.
These tips may help ease the frustrations of cognitive impairment caused by lupus.
- Pay attention when receiving new information. Repeat it or write it down. Verify any details.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Take good care of your body; exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep.
- Learn memory techniques, such as associating a person’s name with an image, or repeating the name several times in conversation.
- Try to stay organized. One helpful hint is to use a year-long calendar notebook so that all appointments, plans, contact information, and reminders can be kept in one place.