Nearly 4 percent of adults living in North America are diagnosed with either fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Although both of these medical conditions involve widespread pain and loss of sleep, there are some key differences. Fibromyalgia causes pain in the soft tissues and is therefore considered by medical experts to be a rheumatoid condition rather than an inflammatory disease. Sleeplessness tends to increase the amount of fibromyalgia pain, and research indicates that the individual's diet and amount of physical activity also plays a role in the severity of the symptoms experienced.
Fibromyalgia and Loss of Sleep
Persons experiencing nighttime pain in the muscles are advised to keep a sleep diary. The number of hours each night in which the person is kept awake because of localized or widespread pain in the muscles or connective tissues should be noted. It is also recommended that the person keep track of the amount and dosages of pain medications taken at various times of the day in an effort to combat the symptoms.
Taking this information to the doctor will aid tremendously in the forming of an accurate diagnosis. The suggested treatments for fibromyalgia differ somewhat from recommended treatments for CFS. Loss of sleep tends to increase the amount of pain in those who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and the pain experienced leads to an even greater loss of sleep. It is therefore important for the physician to correctly diagnose the condition before recommending any combination of pharmacologic and therapeutic treatments.
Combining Diet with Exercise and Physical Therapy
There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, primarily because there is no accurate definition of the condition in terms of its cause. However, research statistics have made it rather obvious that certain members of the population are more likely to be afflicted. It is also becoming clear that the most common symptoms - stiffness and muscle pain - and the consequences of that pain, namely sleep loss, can be treated to some extent through a specialized exercise/physical therapy routine.
This routine is often combined with a change in the daily diet. More important than the actual foods consumed is the strict scheduling of meals. Eating at the same times every day, exercising on a set schedule, and retiring for the night at a set hour appears to have positive consequences for those suffering from fibromyalgia symptoms.
Although prescription pain pills will not completely relieve symptoms, certain antidepressants and epilepsy medications have been proven effective to some degree. These drugs are usually prescribed to individuals who have been unable to maintain a nighttime sleep routine. Most medical research indicates that any prescribed drugs will be most effective if they are taken in combination with a doctor-approved diet and exercise program.
It is also important to understand that fibromyalgia symptoms tend to mimic those of other medical conditions. These include temperature hypersensitivity, restless leg syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome. However, fibromyalgia is not directly connected to these medical conditions, nor can it directly cause them. The prescription drug treatments given to fibromyalgia patients are intended to help relieve the muscle pain experienced. They are not chosen for their ability to decrease mimicked symptoms.