Fibromyalgia is largely an invisible disease, since it has symptoms that are difficult to explain to friends and family

Interview with José Antonio Mingorance Rubiño, physiotherapist and university specialist in Body Damage Assessment

«Fibromyalgia is largely an invisible disease, since it has symptoms that are difficult to explain to friends and family»

«Fibromyalgia is largely an invisible disease, since it has symptoms that are difficult to explain to friends and family»

Q What is fibromyalgia? 
R Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness and tenderness in muscles, tendons and joints. It is also characterized by sleep disturbances, fatigue, fatigue, anxiety, depression and alterations in intestinal functions. It is a form of generalized extra-articular rheumatism and that clinically is characterized by chronic musculoskeletal pain, associated with alterations of the normal sleep pattern, fatigue and psychological or personality alterations.

Q What is its origin? 
R It is an entity of idiopathic-unknown etiology, but there are predisposing factors such as female sex, age, race, emotional factors, family history and physical condition. Possible triggers have also been described, such as acute post-traumatic emotional stress, work-related stress, musculoskeletal injury, previous surgery, serious illness, and reactive anxiety or depression.

Q How many people does it affect? 
R It is estimated that it affects 2-4% of the population, being more common in women (prevalence of 4.2%) than in men (prevalence of 0.2%).

Q How to know if you have fibromyalgia? 
R Fibromyalgia can be considered a condition of imitation, since its main symptoms (generalized fatigue and pain) are very similar to those of other diseases, so sometimes its diagnosis is complicated.

Q What are all your symptoms? 
R The main ones are the presence of diffuse pain in a large part of the body, chronic fatigue, joint stiffness and muscular contractures. However, there are other symptoms such as pain concentrated in some areas, sleep disorder in quality and quantity, headache, tingling and swelling in the hands, increased urination, more painful menstrual periods in some women, gastrointestinal problems, numbness of feet and hands, dizziness, depression, anxiety, mood swings, lack of concentration and memory loss.

Q How is it diagnosed? 
R An anamnesis is carried out assessing pain and joint stiffness, as well as muscle weakness, asthenia and non-restorative sleep. At the laboratory level, 30% of patients with fibromyalgia have positive antinuclear antigens.
Currently, major criteria and minor criteria are established, requiring the presence of 3 major criteria and 9 minor criteria. The major criteria are the generalized pain of more than 3 months of evolution, pain in 6 of the 18 specific points of the body located along the spine, elbows, knees and hips and the absence of concomitant disease as a cause of fibromyalgia. The minor criteria are the intrusion of alpha waves in the electroencephalogram during sleep, non-restful sleep, nocturnal increase in fatigue and morning stiffness, daily fatigue and fatigue, subjective sensation of inflammation or paresthesias, aggravation with cold, stress or activity and improvement with rest, heat and physical therapy, chronic headache and intestinal functional disorder.

Q Is the disease perceived for others? 
A Fibromyalgia is largely an invisible disease. Thus, it is particularly difficult to describe for friends and family, since their symptoms vary in severity from one day to the next. Because of this, there is a great affectation at socio-familiar level of life.

Q How is it treated? 
A The treatment for fibromyalgia tries to alleviate some of its symptoms and improve the quality of life, although currently there is no cure. The most used therapies are patient education, cognitive-behavioral therapy, physical exercise and physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy is of vital importance: the development of programs of moderate physical exercise, hydrotherapy and proprioceptive training are shown as the therapies with the best results for the relief of pain and to improve muscle and joint balance. Ideally, the patient with fibromyalgia should be treated within a multidisciplinary team composed of a rheumatologist, a neurologist, a psychologist, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist. Fibromyalgia makes life a daily challenge, but it also brings unexpected advantages, such as learning to be grateful for the small daily beauties of life.

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