Fibromyalgia is a disorder that affects how the body processes pain signals. It frequently results in fatigue and widespread pain in the muscles and joints of the body. Patients could experience cognitive issues, including impairments in attention span and concentration, and some might also have anxiety, depression, tension headaches, or irritable bowel syndrome. For reasons that are not fully understood, women have a higher risk of fibromyalgia compared to men. Physicians diagnose fibromyalgia by ruling out other conditions that could cause the patient's symptoms. In the past, doctors would perform a physical examination to check for tenderness at eighteen sites across the body, though modern guidelines suggest this exam is no longer necessary. Currently, if a patient has experienced widespread pain for at least three months and no other medical condition accounts for their symptoms, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made.
Some of the most widely used treatment options for fibromyalgia are discussed below.
Originally developed to treat epilepsy, anti-seizure medication is also effective in reducing the type of pain that frequently occurs with fibromyalgia. Gabapentin is one of the anti-seizure medications most often prescribed for patients with this condition. Patients taking this medicine may experience potential side effects such as dizziness, sleepiness, or memory loss, and water retention and walking difficulties have been reported. In addition to gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication known as pregabalin, the first drug specifically approved for fibromyalgia treatment in the United States, is particularly beneficial for many patients. This drug can be taken orally, and it may also be injected. If patients are prescribed the injectable form of this medicine, they take it at home as a self-administered injection. Common side effects of pregabalin include tremors, blurry vision, dry mouth, weight gain, and loss of balance and coordination. Patients could develop constipation, breast swelling, or memory issues, and some individuals have experienced weight gain.
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