Ignorance of the cause, lack of tests to determine it, and chronic pain define this disease. This makes it difficult to prevent the disorder, which affects 2 to 3% of the population, mainly women and people who have experienced depressive episodes, traumatic events, or mood disorders.
Pain, fatigue, mood disturbances or sleep disturbances are symptoms that seem normal to feel, but they can be a sign of fibromyalgia, a disease that is present in about 2% of the world’s population.
“The main symptom is widespread pain, usually of musculoskeletal origin, which is; Pain in the muscles, spine, legs, arms and hands. However, the characteristic of fibromyalgia is that, although the bones, joints and muscles hurt, there are no major changes that can be substantiated as the origin of the pain,” says Karen Vergara, rheumatologist at Clínica Las Condes.
In this sense, he explains that “the problem with this disease is that a failure occurs in the way the painful stimulus reaches the brain, creating an echo that you don’t really want to be sent as a signal.” It hurts more than it should.”
Dr. Vergara indicates that it can take years to detect this pathology because “fibromyalgia is generally a predisposing disease, that is, a specialist must be able to distinguish whether there are other so-called organic diseases. that are the cause of these diseases or conditions. Patients often visit one or more traumatologists, general practitioners, or internists, report different pains, and sometimes they seek anti-inflammatory or kinetic therapies. Doesn’t give good feedback.
Patients suffering from fibromyalgia, in addition to pain, often also identify other types of symptoms such as fatigue or chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, discomfort in the abdominal area or functional pain such as irritable bowel syndrome and urinary discomfort.
For her part, rheumatologist Maria Angela Carreno, from Medicop, characterized the condition as being “a picture of chronic pain, without inflammation or tissue destruction.” The pain may cover certain parts of the body or may be generalized, often with persistent pain to which episodes of attacks of varying duration may be combined.
Although stressful or traumatic situations are thought to trigger the disease, there is no specific cause, nor are there tests that determine the condition. As a recommendation against it, Dr. Carreno admits that “consultation and studies are necessary to exclude other causes that could explain the pain, especially joint, muscle, or autoimmune diseases.”
Because of these non-specific and varied symptoms, there is no specific treatment for fibromyalgia, but you will need to look at each pain or condition and treat it specifically. For example, Medicop rheumatologists recommend treating emotional problems, for which medications such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and neurotransmitter regulators are common.
On the other hand, controlling sleep disturbances and having a low-impact aerobic exercise routine are important. “Treatments can vary between patients and within the same patient over time, so maintaining periodic follow-up is advised,” he says.
Furthermore, it is advisable that the patient manages to know his pain and its frequency in order to anticipate possible crises or major attacks through measures to avoid increasing pain intensity.
Who does it affect?
The condition can affect men and women, children and adults, although with a greater propensity or predilection for middle-aged women. Many times this condition results in the patient making a constant and persistent search for the cause of their chronic pain, consulting various specialists.
This process of uncertainty, exhaustion and lack of diagnosis for so long causes patients to develop emotional, psychological or social problems, especially due to living with pain which can sometimes be disabling while waiting for a diagnosis. reaches.
Furthermore, being a disease that does not show its pain in changes physically or on examination, a support network for people with fibromyalgia is vital to its management through understanding, acceptance, cooperation and encouragement that they can provide. Can give to the patient.
Which states support fibromyalgia patients?
In February of this year, the Non-Oncological Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Law was promulgated, which seeks to take into account factors that involve a patient with this condition, such as preferential and protected health care, early diagnosis, access to the care, medicines and treatments necessary for their mental and physical health, and access to information that will facilitate the treatment of disease for those affected.
The law seeks to reduce and avoid cases of discrimination by health systems as a state, by ensuring that the patient has free and equal access to the health insurance system, noting that the main symptoms such as emotional problems, sleep disorders And exercise can be done in primary care centers.
Which is the treatment?
Treatment of a patient with fibromyalgia should be individualized and multidisciplinary, which may include the use of pharmacological measures and other forms of therapy.
“We should aim to control comorbidities. It is also very important to educate the patient about it. We emphasize on maintaining aerobic physical activity with low impact on the joints such as yoga and swimming.
Regarding pharmacological therapy, on the other hand, he mentions that “there are different families of drugs that can help control symptoms, however, this should be done as directed by a medical professional.”