Make An Appointment

Prefer to schedule over the phone? Contact a Advanced Pain Care location near you:

Patient Links

Get messages from doctors and staff, check prescriptions, download forms and agreements, and pay your bills online.

Records + Referrals

Are you a healthcare provider and need to make a referral or access records?

Main Line (Austin Area)
Waco/Killeen
APC Icon — Pain Icon

Overview:

Fibromyalgia

Medical experts believe it to be the second most common ailment that affects bones and muscles.

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, as many as 12 million people in the United States currently suffer from fibromyalgia pain – approximately 3% of the U.S. population.

Though not life-threatening, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that lowers the “quality of life” factor for those suffering from this illness in greater degrees than other chronic pain diagnoses.

Fibromyalgia symptoms are characterized by muscle pain and tenderness. This disorder amplifies the way in which the brain receives pain signals from different stimuli and causes widespread pain in the musculoskeletal system. Besides pain in multiple parts of the body, fibromyalgia often causes severe mood swings, depression, chronic fatigue, and sleep disorders due to the level of pain being experienced. These factors all combine to lower the quality of life for those that have been diagnosed with this disorder.

What is fibromyalgia and what causes it?

Fibromyalgia (also known as fibromyalgia syndrome or FMS) is a long-term condition characterized by widespread pain all over the body. Chronic muscle pain, fatigue, tender points in the body, and difficulty with sleep are the most common symptoms. Fibromyalgia is also categorized as a central pain amplification disorder because the pain sensations felt in the brain are amplified to other parts of the body.

This disorder is usually caused by abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain which impact how the human central nervous system (brain, nerves, and spinal cord) receives and processes pain signals. People suffering from fibromyalgia pain often have extremely low levels of hormones in their brains such as dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline.

The most common triggers that often cause the onset of fibromyalgia include:

  • An injury or accident that triggers a certain response in the body’s central nervous system
  • A viral infection that can aggravate or result in chemical changes in the brain
  • Diseases such as arthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder, irritable bowel disorder, etc.
  • Emotional abuse or disturbances
  • A stressful event – both physical and emotional – which can result in changes to specific pain receptors
  • Hormonal changes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Genetics (genetic mutations make specific people more prone to the condition)

The condition usually starts occurring during middle age (between 20 and 50), though early onset symptoms in teens occasionally occur. Fibromyalgia also affects women in much greater numbers than men due to the constant hormonal changes in the lives of women due to puberty, pregnancies, and menopause.

Despite the similarities in the underlying causes and symptoms, fibromyalgia is not categorized as an autoimmune disease or muscle disorder.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Indicators of fibromyalgia are varied, although the most typical symptoms are dull aches and constant pain all over the body. Other symptoms include:

  • Parts of the body that are overtly tender or sensitive to touch
  • Fibro fog or a state of confusion which is characterized by a fuzziness in the brain
  • Nonrestorative sleep, where even long periods of sleep do not give a sense of being rested
  • Sharp and stabbing pain in various parts of the body
  • Shooting and burning pain in various parts of the body
  • Muscle pain that can be described as sensations of tightness, burning, and twitching
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Memory lapses
  • Severe insomnia
  • Concentration lapses
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Parts of the body that are overtly tender or sensitive to touch
  • Fibro fog or a state of confusion which is characterized by a fuzziness in the brain
  • Nonrestorative sleep, where even long periods of sleep do not give a sense of being rested
  • Sharp and stabbing pain in various parts of the body
  • Shooting and burning pain in various parts of the body
  • Muscle pain that can be described as sensations of tightness, burning, and twitching
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Memory lapses
  • Severe insomnia
  • Concentration lapses
  • Extreme fatigue

If you are experiencing multi-site pain in your muscles along with any of these symptoms, a physician is likely to diagnose your condition as fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia can also be expressed through several non-specific symptoms which often leads to a misdiagnosis of osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, bursitis, or tendinitis.

These non-specific symptoms include:

  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as stomachache, constipation,
    bloating, and diarrhea
  • Frequent urination
  • Sensitivity to changing temperature and light
  • Dryness in the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as stomachache, constipation,
    bloating, and diarrhea
  • Frequent urination
  • Sensitivity to changing temperature and light
  • Dryness in the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stiffness throughout the body
  • Headaches

Fibromyalgia can also co-exist with a range of medical conditions such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome
  • Regional pain syndrome
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome
  • Regional pain syndrome
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

What are the risk factors associated with fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can affect men, women, and children, although women are affected by this condition in much greater numbers. Other factors that increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia include:

  • Genetics and family predispositions – those with an immediate family member suffering from fibromyalgia are eight times more likely to get it themselves.
  • Disorders or diseases such as lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis
  • Infections such as hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease, and parvovirus
  • Emotional trauma
  • Physical trauma especially to spine and trunk regions

What are the complications that can arise from fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia pain can be instant, constant and/or long term unless treated. Due to the painful symptoms that stem from this condition, there can be several complications that can arise in those affected such as:

  • Low quality of life with the inability to even perform daily activities properly.
  • Higher possibility of co-occurring rheumatic conditions.

Due to the chronic and widespread pain coupled with poor sleep and fatigue, a patient’s ability to manage even routine of daily tasks can be difficult.

When should I see a doctor?

Fibromyalgia is a neurological disease that affects the person’s sensory processing system. There is no specific lab test to diagnose this condition, so the best way to know when you should see a doctor is by the symptoms you are experiencing. To diagnose a case as fibromyalgia, a physician must document widespread pain in their patient for at least 3 months. If you are experiencing pain there is no need to wait. Visit us at www.austinpaindoctor.com or call 512.244.4272 to schedule a same or next day appointment with a Neurosurgeon, Rheumatologist and/or a Pain Management Physician.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Pain is the hallmark of fibromyalgia and is used in the diagnosis of this condition. According to the diagnostic guidelines of the American College of Rheumatology, individuals must be in widespread, continuous pain for at least 3 months to be considered as a diagnosis by a physician.

Fibromyalgia mimics several medical conditions (like several forms of rheumatic diseases, mental disorders, and neurological disorders) based on sharing common symptoms. There is no specific diagnostic test for fibromyalgia, although a physician may prescribe a set of tests to rule out other conditions.

These specific tests include:

  • Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate test
  • Thyroid function test
  • Rheumatoid factor test
  • Antinuclear antibody test
  • Celiac serologyn test
  • Vitamin D test
  • Complete blood count screen
  • Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate test
  • Thyroid function test
  • Rheumatoid factor test
  • Antinuclear antibody test
  • Celiac serologyn test
  • Vitamin D test
  • Complete blood count screen

Since fibromyalgia often co-exists with other medical conditions in a patient, the physician will also check if these conditions are ever experienced:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Jaw pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndromea
  • Headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Jaw pain

How is fibromyalgia treated?

These is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, although physicians at Advanced Pain Care treat this condition with a multifaceted approach that includes:

  1. Medication
  1. Self-care techniques
  1. Lifestyle changes

Medication goes a long way in providing relief from pain and sleeplessness associated with this condition. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved specific medicines for providing relief from fibromyalgia. These medications include:

  1. Narcotic medications (such as Ultram)
  1. Tricyclic antidepressants
  1. Antiseizure drugs
  1. Sleep medications

Does surgery become necessary to treat fibromyalgia?

Surgery is not a typical option to treat fibromyalgia. In cases where a patient’s pain is extreme and constant, the pain management specialists at Advanced Pain Care may recommend neurostimulation or neuromodulation. Neurostimulation is a procedure to modulate nervous tissue function and reduce the amplification of pain sensations from the spinal cord to the brain – it’s like noise cancelling headphones for pain.

Trigger point injections are another treatment option that might be recommended by a pain management physician at Advanced Pain Care to relieve pain in specific points of the body. These injections can contain saline, steroids, or lidocaine (a local anesthetic).

What are the precautions I can take to prevent fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia cannot be completely prevented, although its impact on one’s quality of life can be reduced. Along with the medication prescribed by your Pain Care Management doctor or Rheumatologist at Advanced Pain Care, the following recommendations can help reduce the overall health impacts of this condition:

Reduce Stress — Stress is one of the biggest causes of fibromyalgia. Plenty of regulated exercise releases endorphins in the body that can help fight fatigue, sleeplessness, and stress.

Get Quality Sleep — Relaxation techniques can help with sleep hygiene and habits while regulating overall sleep.

Eat a Healthy Diet — Consume foods that reduce inflammation of the gut.

Our team of pain care specialists and rheumatologists work with each our patients to reduce the impact that fibromyalgia has on their quality of life. If your life is being affected by some or all of the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, visit https://austinpaindoctor.com/ or call 512-244-4272 to schedule a same or next day appointment with a specialist.

FAQS

Q: Can pain management doctors treat fibromyalgia?

A: Fibromyalgia can be treated and managed by different specialists including rheumatologists, pain care management physicians, and physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians.

Q: What foods trigger fibromyalgia pain?

A: There are certain foods that are linked with triggering symptoms of fibromyalgia. These types of food include:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • High carbohydrates
  • Unhealthy fats
  • Alcohol
  • Red meat
  • Gluten
  • Dairy products
  • Caffeine
  • Specific fruits and vegetables

Q: Will fibromyalgia ever go away?

A: Fibromyalgia is considered a long-term, chronic disease that needs to be managed since there is no cure, although this condition is not life threatening. Pain Management physicians and Rheumatologists can help reduce pain and treat symptoms using a multi-pronged approach of medication(s), lifestyle changes and dietary variations.

Q: What causes fibromyalgia to flare up?

A: Fibromyalgia can flare up due to specific triggers like:

  • A viral infection
  • Mental stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Emotional abuse or disturbances
  • Hormonal changes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Specific foods
  • An injury or trauma

Q: How does a person get fibromyalgia?

A: Fibromyalgia is predominantly caused by an imbalance of chemical hormones in the brain. This impacts how the human central nervous system (brain, nerves, and spinal cord) receives and processes pain signals. There are certain triggers that cause the onset of fibromyalgia which include:

  • An injury or accident that triggers a certain response in the body’s central nervous system
  • A viral infection that can aggravate or result in changes in the chemical components in the brain
  • Diseases such as arthritis, temporomandibular joint disorder, irritable bowel disorder, etc.
  • A stressful event – both physical and emotional – which can result in similar changes in the pain receptors
  • Emotional abuse or disturbances
  • Hormonal changes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Genetics (genetic mutations make specific people more prone to this condition)

Q: What does a fibromyalgia attack feel like?

A: When fibromyalgia is triggered, the physical symptoms expressed include:

  • Widespread muscle pain that is experienced as a sharp, stabbing, intense pain and/or stiffness especially in the chest and back
  • Severe fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Feeling of exhaustion (even after a normal night of sleep)
  • Cognitive difficulties

Q: What are the most severe symptoms of fibromyalgia?

A: Severe symptoms of fibromyalgia beyond chronic widespread pain include:

  • Muscle pain that can be described as sensations of tightness, burning, and twitching
  • Multiple points in the body that are overtly tender or sensitive to touch
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Severe insomnia
  • Nonrestorative sleep, where even long periods of sleep do not give a sense of being rested
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Concentration lapses
  • Memory lapses
  • Fibro fog or a state of confusion which is characterized by a fuzziness in the brain

Q: How serious is fibromyalgia?

A: While not categorized as a life-threatening medical condition, fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder. In medical terms, fibromyalgia is classified as a benign, chronic widespread pain condition.

The primary symptoms for fibromyalgia are muscle pain and muscle tenderness. This disorder amplifies the way the brain receives pain signals from different stimuli and causes widespread pain in the musculoskeletal system. Beyond widespread pain, fibromyalgia can also cause severe mood swings, depression, chronic fatigue, and sleep disorders. These secondary symptoms can contribute to a lower quality of life for those experiencing this condition.

Fibromyalgia Pain Treatment

Downloadable Resources

Are You Experiencing Pain?

If you are experiencing any back pain or stiffness, call Advanced Pain Care at 512-244-4272 to schedule an appointment with one of our pain care and management specialists.

We have a range of pain management treatment options available right from surgical interventions to non-invasive and minimally invasive treatment options. Our team will work with you to develop a pain management plan based on the severity of your condition.