What exactly is Fibromyalgia? Dr Stephanie Barrett



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Fibromyalgia is a rheumatological condition. It’s a chronic syndrome that causes pain and discomfort throughout the body and extreme tiredness but there are many other symptoms that vary from one person to the next.

Knowing what exactly fibromyalgia is may just be the starting point once you receive a diagnosis. Understanding how it affects you individually on a daily basis and how best to learn to live with fibromyalgia is a journey you’ll go through with setbacks and successes along the way.

What is fibromyalgia?

Often, when a person is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it feels as if the question should be ‘what is fibromyalgia not’, rather than what it is. That’s because doctors often determine that a patient has fibromyalgia after conducting tests for a number of disorders before ruling each one out. This medical ‘process of exclusion’ can be worrisome and exhausting.

Fibromyalgia is also called fibromyalgia syndrome. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur together. It is thought that fibromyalgia is caused by a problem in the central nervous symptom that affects how nerves react to, and how the brain interprets, pain and other sensory experiences.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Chronic pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia. People with the condition often feel aches and pains all over their bodies. How individuals experience pain caused by fibromyalgia differs. Some may feel a deep throbbing in muscles they use often, others might feel a burning sensation, pins and needles, or sharp, stabbing pains. It’s not uncommon to experience several or all of these types of discomfort.

There are many other reported symptoms of fibromyalgia. These include extreme tiredness, cognitive and memory problems (often called ‘fibro fog’), trouble sleeping, anxiety and depression, headaches, temperature sensitivity, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with fibromyalgia might also experience restless leg syndrome and muscle spasms and nerve twitching.

How is fibromyalgia treated?

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. As it has numerous symptoms, there is no single treatment. Medicine to treat the pain is often the primary remedy. Medication to help you sleep and to deal with anxiety and depression may also be prescribed. Talking therapies and lifestyle changes are also commonly recommended.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the public body in England that publishes clinical practice guidelines, recommends Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as a treatment for fibromyalgia pain. TMS is a non-invasive procedure that sends electrical pulses to stimulate parts of the brain and has been shown to relieve chronic pain.

However, it is not widely available on the NHS. Dr Stephanie Kaye-Barrett can offer TMS at the practice consulting rooms in Harley Street, for fibromyalgia treatment in London. Why not get in touch with our friendly, knowledgeable practice manager and her team to find out more?