Monday, November 10, 2008



Determining and Treating Fibromyalgia

Imagine having pain everywhere and not being able to find relief. One doctor says it is stress, another can’t find any reason for the pain, one even diagnoses you with lupus, while others just say it must be depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, none of the recommendations are helping and the pain seems to get worse, to the point where your skin is super sensitive to objects touching it, such as jewelry, clothing and bed sheets. No one can come up with a reason for this happening.

An estimated 6 million Americans deal with this condition, known as fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, there are no laboratory tests that can define the disease, so doctors rely solely on the patient’s reported symptoms to make a diagnosis. Fibromyalgia affects mostly women and is poorly understood. Sufferers may get the condition after a stressful event, viral infection or physical injury, while many find themselves with the condition for no apparent reason.

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are fatigue, chronic pain and sleep disruptions. Symptoms come and go and are oftentimes never diagnosed. At first doctors thought the condition stemmed from the nerve endings and tissues, but could not find nerve damage or inflammation. Now doctors understand that is it a condition of the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system.

Mirror resonance imaging (MRI) shows an increase in brain activity with fibromyalgia, and some suspect that neurotransmitters have something to do with the disease too. Nerve cells use chemicals, called neuromtransmitters, to communicate. This is also a process in the condition of depression and many people who have fibromyalgia also have depression. Some scientists feel there is a genetic disposition to developing both depression and fibromyalgia, though fibromyalgia has chronic pain, which sets it apart.

Pfizer’s Lyrica has been used to treat fibromyalgia since June 2007, where only pain medication and antidepressants were available before. Pfizer’s Lyrica is a drug that has been used to treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain before it was used for fibromyalgia. In studies, nearly 30 percent of patients saw a dramatic decrease in pain using the drug, while only 15 percent of those taking a placebo saw a decrease in pain. If you are having chronic pain, sleep disturbances and unreasonable fatigue, be sure to ask your doctor about fibromyalgia.

With a clear diagnosis and new medication such as Pfizer’s Lyrica, the condition can be managed.



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