Until recently, Fibromyalgia, a disorder that is characterized by chronic pain, was not always recognized as a legitimate health problem. To date, approximately 3% of Canadians suffer from fibromyalgia, with up to 90% of those cases being women between the ages of 30 and 60.
Certain things, such as car accidents or infections, have been long thought to be a cause of fibromyalgia. Several studies have also suggested that fibromyalgia may be hereditary, meaning you are more likely to develop it if someone in your immediate family also suffers from it. However, many causes of fibromyalgia are spontaneous, thus making it a complex condition for doctors to diagnose.
The chief complaint in patients with fibromyalgia is widespread pain – meaning they cannot pinpoint one specific location where their pain is located. Instead, it affects various parts of their body. However, others may have specific points on their body where the pain is located – such as the arms or legs. Other health conditions, such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), chronic headaches and insomnia, are also linked to fibromyalgia.
As there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, it is Dr. Ali Ghahary’s main goal as a family physician to treat the symptoms that the patient is experiencing.
In lieu of prescribing different pain medications, doctors will commonly prescribe antidepressants or anticonvulsants. As fibromyalgia pain is also thought to be neuropathic related, these types of medications work by targeting the brain’s pain signals and nerves. In 2007, Lyrica (also known as Pregablin) became one of the first FDA-approved drugs to treat fibromyalgia pain, followed by Cymbalta in 2008, and have seen high success rates. Some patients also opt for trying natural treatment methods to help ease the pain associated with fibromyalgia, such as low-impact exercise, and having a diet that is rich in leafy, green vegetables as well as omega-3 fats – both of which are great for reducing inflammation, pain, and provide your body with essential nutrients.
It’s also not uncommon for fibromyalgia to also result in the patient experiencing bouts of depression and anxiety, which is why Dr. Ali Ghahary also stresses the importance of taking care of your mental health and being able to recognize the signs of mental illness. Always remember to speak out about how you’re feeling and have good support system around you.