Tough to Bear: Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome
Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome affects millions of people in the United States and around the world. It is a chronic pain disorder in which the patient bears mild to severe pain on a daily basis. Eighty to ninety percent of the patients are women, although it also affects men as well. Unfortunately, no one is immune to the syndrome, as it affects people of all ages and races. Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome, because of the pain involved in it, has been typically classified as a type of arthritis, even though the pain is in the muscles, ligaments and tendons rather than the joints.
There have yet to be found common denominators that show one person to be more predisposed to the condition than another. However, researchers have found that there is a certain genetic predisposition to the syndrome as the majority of patients have a relative that has had it as well. Researchers have also found that patients with Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome tend to have a lower pain threshold than average, which points to a miscommunication in the brain in regards to pain. It also hints that there are two aspects involved with the syndrome – psychological and biological.
Today, one of the biggest advancements made in Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome research is the development of a diagnostic tool to help doctors evaluate whether a person is suffering from the syndrome or a disease that it mimics.
The diagnosis has two main parts, each involving the evaluation of the widespread pain from which the patient is suffering. The first part is evaluating whether the patient is suffering pain in each of the four quadrants of the body. If the pain is not in all four quadrants, the patient is unlikely to be afflicted with Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome.
If the pain is indeed in all four quadrants, then the diagnostic tool moves to the second part: the tender point test. There are eighteen tender points in the body where the muscles and tendons join together. These points are found in the upper body: neck, shoulders, back, waist and ribs. In the lower body they are found in the buttocks and knee area.
In order for a patient to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome, eleven of the eighteen tender points must be in moderate to severe pain. The doctor tests these points with the same amount of pressure (about 4kg) in order to establish the amount of pain found in each area. If both diagnostic tests come out positive, then the patient is considered to have the syndrome and the diagnosis moves to the more specific symptoms so that discussion can move to Fibromyalgia Medications appropriate for the patient.