Pain Relief Blog

Fibromyalgia Myths & Facts

Fibromyalgia is defined as a clinical syndrome characterized by widespread pain and tenderness on palpation of specific muscle points. Fibromyalgia is often associated with variety of other symptoms that include fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety and cognitive issues. Currently, there is no evidence of the cause of fibromyalgia, however, it has been thought that genetics, psychological and psychosocial factors are involved.

Here are some common fibromyalgia myths … and the facts.

Myth: Fibromyalgia can be treated with medications including narcotics/opioids.

Fact: Narcotics/opioids are not indicated for treating fibromyalgia. Medications and supplements that are indicated for this include: Lyrica, Cymbalta, Gabapentin, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatories, including turmeric and high dose fish oils. There is increasing evidence that opioids not only lack efficacy for fibromyalgia, but can increase a patients sensitivity to pain, which is called opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

Myth: Fibromyalgia is a common diagnosis affecting many people in the United States.

Fact: Fibromyalgia affects 1% to 4% of women and 1.5% of men, but this number is likely much higher than the percentage of patients that actually have fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, it is overdiagnosed for patients with chronic pain who do not have another diagnosis. Many practitioners have described it as a “bucket diagnosis” as patients frequently desire an answer to why they are having “pain all over.”

Myth: Patients cannot do anything about the pain and are subject to a lifetime of suffering with the disorder.

Fact: There are many non-pharmacologic treatments for fibromyalgia and are essential to improving and eradicating the disease. Patients need to take control of their pain and be active and involved in improving their pain and function. These treatments include aerobic exercise, sleep, psychological counseling, and education.

Myth: Fibromyalgia is diagnosed from patients describing pain as all over their body.

Fact: Fibromyalgia is only diagnosed by having 11 or more out of 18 specific tender points on both sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. Other diagnosis’ that are associated with fibromyalgia include depression, obesity, hepatitis, physical trauma, emotional trauma, and chronic stress as well as physical or sexual abuse.

​Myth: Fibromyalgia is as common in males as much as females are and just as common in young and older patients.

Fact: Fibromyalgia onset is usually between 35-50, with the most common being females in their 40s. Other common traits include obesity, history of divorce, a lower education level and household income as well as being disabled.

Fibromyalgia is one of the many pain conditions we treat at Comprehensive Pain & Neurology Center. Find a full list here.

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