WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is a common and disabling disorder affecting 2-4%
of the population, women more often than men. Despite the
condition's frequency, the diagnosis is often missed. Patients
with fibromyalgia usually ache all over, sleep poorly, are stiff
on waking, and are tired all day. They are prone to headaches,
memory and concentration problems, dizziness, numbness and
tingling, itching, fluid retention, crampy abdominal or pelvic
pain and diarrhea, and several other symptoms.
There are no diagnostic lab or x-ray abnormalities, but a
physician can confirm the diagnosis by finding multiple tender
points in characteristic locations. Fibromyalgia often runs in
families, suggesting an inherited predisposition. It may lie
dormant until triggered by an injury, stress, or sleep
disturbance. It is closely related to the chronic fatigue and
irritable bowel syndromes. Some have suggested that these are
all just different facets of the same underlying disorder.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Fibromyalgia has mistakenly been thought to be either an
inflammatory or a psychiatric condition. However, no evidence
of inflammation or arthritis has been found, and patients with
fibromyalgia are now known to be no more depressed or anxious
than those with other chronic, painful, debilitating conditions.
It is now believed that depression and anxiety when present are
more often the result than the cause of fibromyalgia.
There is some evidence that fibromyalgia may be due to an
abnormality of deep sleep. Abnormal brain waveforms have been
found in deep sleep in many patients with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia-like symptoms can be produced in normal volunteers
by depriving them of deep sleep for a few days. Low levels of
somatostatin, a hormone important in maintaining good muscle and
other soft tissue health, have been found in patients with
fibromyalgia. This hormone is produced almost exclusively in
deep sleep, and it's production is increased by exercise.
I should point out though that while this is my personal
favorite among the theories of the cause of fibromyalgia, there
are several others, and at this time there is probably not a
majority of fibromyalgia researchers that supports any one
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Fibromyalgia is difficult to treat, not because treatment isn't
usually successful (it is), but because it will take a lot of
work, education, and involvement on your part for it to be
successful. Simply starting the right medication will have little effect.
Successful treatment of fibromyalgia requires:
1) Regular sleep hours and an adequate amount of sleep.
2) Medication to improve deep sleep.
3) Daily gentle aerobic exercise.
4) Avoidance of physical and emotional stress.
5) Treatment of any coexisting sleep disorders.
If any of these five are omitted, significant improvement is
CFS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic
encephalomyelitis in England) does not appear to be new. In
the 19th century, there were various reports of neurasthenia,
or nervous exhaustion; in the 1930s through the 1950s,
outbreaks of disease marked by prolonged fatigue were
reported in the United States and many other countries.
Beginning in the early to mid-1980s, interest in chronic fatigue
syndrome was revived by reports in America and other
countries of various outbreaks of long-term debilitating
fatigue. Over six million patients visits are made each year
because of fatigue, although only a very small percentage of
these can be attributed to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Depression, infections, pregnancy, extreme exercise, sleep
disorders, and excessive stress -- these and many other
common conditions can lead to feelings of exhaustion. In
many instances, fatigue can be relieved with adequate rest. It
is important to note that because fatigue can be the harbinger
of a serious medical or psychologic problem, anyone who
experiences unexplained fatigue longer than one month should
see a physician.
If no medical or psychologic problems account for fatigue that
has lasted for more than six months and impairs normal
activities, experts define the condition as unexplained chronic
fatigue. A group of experts have now developed criteria for
further differentiating this unexplained fatigue as either chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS) or idiopathic chronic fatigue.
(Idiopathic simply means that the cause is not known.)
Chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed in people meeting the
following criteria (if these criteria are not met, then the
condition is considered to be idiopathic chronic fatigue):
Four or more of the following symptoms must have been
present for longer than six months:
1. short-term memory loss or a
severe inability to concentrate that
affects work, school, or other
2. sore throat
3. swollen lymph nodes in the neck
4. muscle pain
5. pain without redness or swelling
in a number of joints
6. intense or changing patterns of
7. unrefreshing sleep
8. after any exertion, weariness
that lasts for more than a day
The fatigue must be severe: Sleep or rest does not
relieve it; the fatigue is not the result of excessive work
or exercise; and the fatigue substantially impairs a
person's ability to function normally at home, at work,
and in social occasions. Even mild exercise often makes
the symptoms, especially fatigue, much worse.
The fatigue must be a new -- not lifelong -- condition
with a definite time of onset. For instance, many patients
with chronic fatigue report having had a flu-like illness
that triggered the symptoms. (In one study, 20%
reported chronic fatigue following a flu.) Often, the
condition first appears as a viral upper respiratory tract
infection marked by some combination of fever,
headache, muscle aches, sore throat, earache,
congestion, runny nose, cough, diarrhea, and fatigue.
Typically, the initial illness is no more severe than any
cold or flu.
The symptoms must persist. In ordinary infections,
symptoms go away after a few days, but in CFS, fatigue
and other symptoms recur or continue for months to
years. Many patients experience symptoms as recurring
bouts of flu-like illness, with each attack lasting from hours to weeks.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(Derived From the 1999 Encarda Encylopdia)
A mental illness that some people develop after experiencing traumatic or life-threatening events. Such events include warfare, rape and other sexual assaults, violent physical attacks, torture, child abuse, natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, and automobile or airplane crashes. People who witness traumatic events may also develop the disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans is sometimes called “shell shock” or “combat fatigue.” In victims of sexual or physical abuse, the disorder has been called “rape trauma” or “battered woman syndrome.” The American Psychiatric Association (APA) adopted the current name of the disorder in 1980.
People with this disorder relive the traumatic event again and again through nightmares and disturbing memories during the day. They sometimes have flashbacks, in which they suddenly lose touch with reality and relive images, sounds, and other sensations from the trauma. Because of their extreme anxiety and distress about the event, they try to avoid anything that reminds them of it. They may seem emotionally numb, detached, irritable, and easily startled. They may feel guilty about surviving a traumatic event that killed other people. Other symptoms include trouble concentrating, depression, and sleep difficulties. Symptoms of the disorder usually begin shortly after the traumatic event, although some people may not show symptoms for several years. If left untreated, the disorder can last for years.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can severely disrupt one’s life. Besides the emotional pain of reliving the trauma, the symptoms of the disorder may cause a person to think that he or she is “going crazy.” In addition, people with this disorder may have unpredictable, angry outbursts at family members. At other times, they may seem to have no affection for their loved ones. Some people try to mask their symptoms by abusing alcohol or drugs (see Drug Dependence). Others work very long hours to prevent any “down” periods when they might relive the trauma. Such actions may delay the onset of the disorder until these individuals retire or become sober.
Studies have found from 1 to 14 percent of people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at some point during their lives. The findings vary widely due to differences in the populations studied and the research methods used. Among people who have survived traumatic events, the prevalence appears to be much higher. The disorder may be particularly prevalent among people who have served in combat. For example, one study of veterans of the Vietnam War (1959-1975) found that veterans exposed to a high level of combat were nine times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder than military personnel who did not serve in the war zone of Southeast Asia.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an extreme reaction to extreme stress. In moments of crisis, people respond in ways that allow them to endure and survive the trauma. Afterward those responses, such as emotional numbing, may persist even though they are no longer necessary.
Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops post-traumatic stress disorder. Several factors influence whether people develop the disorder. Those who experience severe and prolonged trauma are more likely to develop the disorder than people who experience less severe trauma. Additionally, those who directly witness or experience death, injury, or attack are more likely to develop symptoms.
People may also have existing biological and psychological vulnerabilities that make them more likely to develop the disorder. Those with histories of anxiety disorders in their families may have inherited a genetic predisposition to react more severely to stress and trauma than other people. In addition, people’s life experiences, especially in childhood, can affect their psychological vulnerability to the disorder. For example, people whose early childhood experiences made them feel that events are unpredictable and uncontrollable have a greater likelihood than others of developing the disorder. Individuals with a strong, supportive social network of friends and family members seem somewhat protected from developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder may involve psychotherapy, psychoactive drugs, or both. Psychotherapists help individuals confront the traumatic experience, work through their strong negative emotions, and overcome their symptoms. Many people with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from group therapy with other individuals suffering from the disorder. Physicians may prescribe antidepressants or anxiety-reducing drugs to treat the mood disturbances that sometimes accompany the disorder.
David H. Barlow
Lynn F. Bufka
( This information was derived from the 1999 Encarta Encyclopedia )
A mental illness in which a person experiences repeated, unexpected panic attacks and persistent anxiety about the possibility that the panic attacks will recur. A panic attack is a period of intense fear, apprehension, or discomfort. In panic disorder, the attacks usually occur without warning. Symptoms include a racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, choking or smothering sensations, and fears of “going crazy,” losing control, or dying from a heart attack. Panic attacks may last from a few seconds to several hours. Most peak within 10 minutes and end within 20 or 30 minutes.
About 2 percent of people in the United States suffer from panic disorder during any given year, and the condition affects more than twice as many women as men. People with panic disorder may experience panic attacks frequently, such as daily or weekly, or more sporadically. Additionally, panic attacks may occur as part of other anxiety disorders, such as phobias—in which a specific object or situation triggers the attack—and, more rarely, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
People with panic disorder frequently develop agoraphobia, a fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult if a panic attack occurs. People with agoraphobia typically fear situations such as traveling in a bus, train, car, or airplane, shopping at malls, going to theaters, crossing over bridges or through tunnels, and being alone in unfamiliar places. Therefore, they avoid these situations and may eventually become reluctant to leave their home. In addition, people with panic disorder appear to have an increased risk of alcoholism and drug dependence. Some studies indicate they also have a higher risk of depression and suicide.
Panic disorder, both with and without agoraphobia, results from a combination of biological and psychological factors. Some individuals may inherit a vulnerability to stress and anxiety and an increased risk of experiencing panic attacks. In addition, certain physiological cues may trigger a panic attack. For example, if a person experiences a racing heart during a panic attack, he or she may begin to associate this sensation with panic attacks. A rapid heartbeat, even if caused by exercise, may then trigger future panic attacks.
Not everyone who experiences a panic attack develops panic disorder. For example, most people experience a rapid heartbeat after running but do not perceive the sensation as dangerous. Those who develop panic disorder tend to interpret their physical sensations as more terrible than they really are. Some psychologists believe that early childhood experiences of separation from important people, such as parents, increase the risk of developing panic disorder.
Mental health professionals usually treat panic disorder with medications, specialized psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Benzodiazepines, a group of tranquilizing drugs that includes alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), often reduce anxiety with few physical side effects. However, these medications can be addictive and may impair movement and concentration in some people. Some antidepressant drugs, such as imipramine (Tofranil), also reduce panic symptoms in some people but can produce side effects such as dizziness or dry mouth. Another class of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), appear to reduce panic symptoms with fewer side effects. SSRIs used to treat panic disorder include paroxetine (Paxil) and fluvoxamine (Luvox). Medication eliminates panic symptoms in 50 to 60 percent of patients. For many patients, however, panic attacks return when they stop taking the medication.
Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy, eliminates panic attacks in 80 to 100 percent of patients. In this method, therapists help patients re-create the physical symptoms of a panic attack, teach them coping skills, and help them to alter their beliefs about the danger of these sensations. Patients with agoraphobia face their feared situations under the therapist’s supervision, using coping skills to overcome their strong anxiety. These coping skills may include physical relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as cognitive techniques that help people think rationally about anxiety-provoking situations. About 70 percent of panic disorder patients who also have moderate to severe agoraphobia benefit from this type of treatment.
David H. Barlow
Lynn F. Bufka
Very Beneficial Links: Health Issues Of All Kinds
- The Web Doctor
- Join here & discuss your issues, post messages
- The Love & Laughter Network
- This is a wonderful site to dwell a spell
- The PTSD Bibliography
- An excellent source of links to numerous types of trauma
- The American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress
- They ARE what they say they are
- Essential Information on Assault, Rape & Domestic Violence
- The most complete sourse of dealing with abuse I have found
- SAYME: The South Australian Youth with ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Please check out this excellent site!!!!!
- Health Link USA
- Hundreds of Different Illnesses, Treatments, Info and Support
- Fibromyalgia Links
- Tons of Info Here
- Fibromyalgia and Me
- Visit This Lady, she knows what it's about
The "F" Words
This Fibropedia is a collection of sniglets, words that should have
been words, as created and defined by people who participate in the
discussion of Fibromyaliga on ***alt.med.fibromyalgia.com***
This list will certainly be updated perpetually (You might also note that some of the
definitions are not in alphabetical order, but I’m sure you’ll catch the drift)!
1) Brain Fog: the brain is clouded, so everything around you is hazy and it is difficult to think clearly, and function 'normally.'
2) Catatecary: which means feeling like the cat that ate the canary.
As in, I'm feeling very catatecary today
3) Clambrain: similar to brainfog; brain is operating at about 5% capacity
4) CNP : a Chronically Normal Person (hehehe)
5) Doctor Fatigue: exhaustion from seeing to many M.D.s whose dx. is IAIYH (It's All In Your Head)
6) Fibro-Bugs: the feeling that bugs are crawling on your skin
7) FibroCrud: a catch all term that describes all of the symptoms that someone with fibromyalgia experiences
8) Fibro-Dance: walking along with no problems, and suddenly then one begins staggering, losing balance (also known as fibrostep and the fibrowaltz, fibrolurch, and fibrobump)
This is called ataxic gait, and the staggering walk is very
common to people with FM/MPS. Travell and Simons say it is
due to sternocleidomastoid trigger points.
9) Fibro-Dash - the beeline we all make when the IBS or cystitis kicks
(also see toilet tag)
10) Fibro-Fellows: Old-timers who can give advice and sustenance to newbies.
11) Fibro-Fingers - thought to be caused by brainfog - typos result from this, as do missed or wrong notes while playing an instrument, we think of the typos as brain stutters
12) Fibro-Flakes: for us only ...an affectionate term for us in our most exaggerated states...use with permission and sensitivity only.
13) Fibro-Flipping: when you have to keep on checking and rechecking several times to make sure that you have written a phone number or any number sequence down correctly.
14) Fibro-Flux: when we are going through shifts in perception, ie. from brain-fog day to achy day due weather change or whatever.
15) Fibro-Giggle: a funny anecdote related to FMS
16) Fibro-Hug: a hug between two people with FMS where they each wrap their arms around the other and use the fingers of both hands to massage the back of the other person.
17) Fibro-Kinks: anything that doesn't operate as it should.
18) Fibro-Link: filling in the missing parts of a conversation
- in the middle of a conversation you say something, thinking
that you said the thought preceding it only to realize that
the person you are talking to has no idea what you are talking about.
(Just a little bit of mind reading would be a good thing sometimes!
19) Fibro-Mail: All electronic mail messages pertaining to FMS.
20) Fibro-Myopia:- condition affecting all doctors, friends, relatives, employers,
and Social Security administrators who can't see beyond the fact that PWFMS look so healthy
Additional definition for Fibromyopia:
Any abnormality of the eye that seems unexplainable or odd to your othalmologist or optometrist.
21) Fibro-Sex: having to experiment with innumerable positions to findone that is comfortable.
22) Fibro-Side: "Why can't we all just get along"?--forgot who said it. Hey, a multiple wellness disorder--it's my "FibroSide."
23) Fibro-Stains - the little tea, coffee, juice etc... marks on our clothing we get from having weak, wobbly wrists
24) Fibro-Tip: a suggestions/tip from one Fmser to another.
25) Hi fibro diet - Anything that tastes good, has lots of salt and or sugar,alcohol, tobacco, fat, cholesterol and sex(oops different list).
26) IAIYH:- "It's all in your head," doctor's cop-out when s/he doesn't have the guts to say "I don't know."
27) IgNoSecond: ig-no-second. It measures a length of time such as hour, minute, or second. But an IGnosecond is the length of time between some irretrievable
action and the time you realize theconsequences of that action. (For example, the length of time between shutting the car door and realizing that it is not only
locked but that your keys are in the ignition.)
28) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):- when the bowel doesn't know
whether it's coming or going, so it does both. One moment you are constipated, and the next
you are running to the bathroom (see toilet tag)
29) Mush Mouth: swapping first letters of two words, swapping
word order, especially after learning Latin where there isn't any word order, and then I do come up
with a few Freudian slips or double sentendes that were not intended.
30) Obisivity: That is something we would have known if we were not a fibro-fog.
31) PAN:- people alleged to be normal.
32) PWF (PWFM, PWFMS, FMSERS): people with Fibromyalgia.
33) Sudden Clumsiness: The art of walking into objects or tripping over object (dust motes?)
even when you see them or are in a brain.
34) Sudden Stupidness: talking with someone and totally forgetting what you were saying;
a dead stop of words and a lost look on your face--"Uh, what was I saying"?
35) Tender Points: are the sore spots of FMS, characteristic places where pressure of 4 kgs. causes pain.
To meet the strict criteria for diagnosis you must have at least 11 out of 18 in specified locations in
addition to a complaint of aching all over.
36) Thingie--what you call something when you can't remember its name.
37) Thingie-do--see thingie.
38) Toilet Tag: when IBS is acting up, and one is constantly running to the bathroom.
39) Tongue Tripping: when one is having difficulties pronouncing simple everyday words, and/or when one
says a completely different word that usually begins with the same letter, but isn't at
all what you intended to say... Or something comes out of your mouth and immediately you wonder why on earth you said that?
40) Fibro- fuselage: When a sufferer is in the dead center of a really bad attack.
41) Fibro-Duh: A versatile word. When one with FMS awakens from a night of unrest and is completely lost.
However, this word can be a cop out for anything if you have FMS!
42) DMP: Don’t make plans! (This is very important)---If you have a chronic illness (especially if it’s invisible)...
For Pete’s sake, DON'T MAKE PLANS!! You will most probably have a flare up of some kind. Then you’ll have to tell the
chronically normal people that you "just don’t feel like it," and *they*
will naturally think you’re being your usual hypochondriac self with your "imagined illness"
Do you ever feel like this? (I Do!)
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My humble thanks to whomever recommended my site for this award.
I am very touched and I thank you sincerely.
From Joyce Catron and her beloved husband, Michael.In memory of
my Daddy, Thomas Riley Leming.
My profound heartfelt thanks to you.
Joyce, I’m sure Michael and Daddy are already friends up in Heaven.
Thank you so much Amy (Cool Nurse).
I’m quite honored by your lovely award!