Imagine suffering from widespread chronic pain. Now imagine doctors telling you “it is all in your head”. For years, patients with fibromyalgia have experienced pain and chronic fatigue as they struggled to find care providers with knowledge of the syndrome and a willingness to treat it seriously.
In recent years, new research and education has shifted the opinion of many in the medical community. Drug companies have introduced new medications targeted at Fibromyalgia. Public awareness of the disease has increased and more support and resources for Fibromyalgia sufferers and their families are now available.
A research study headed up by Fausto Salaffi, M.D., in Milan, Italy, documents the serious impact fibromyalgia has on a person’s health-related quality of life.*
Salaffi writes that fibromyalgia “resembles the pattern of restrictions generally found in patients with musculoskeletal disorders or other chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, recent acute myocardial infarction, type II diabetes, and malignancy.”
Dr. Keith Javery of the Javery Pain Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, takes a whole-patient approach to treating Fibromyagia.
Javery says about ten percent of the patients he sees weekly are Fibromylagia sufferers.
Dr. Javery says the first step with a new patient is to confirm that the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is accurate. Misdiagnosis is common. Once the diagnosis is assured, a treatment plan is personalized to each patient based on the symptoms the patient presents. Javery partners with physical therapists and counselors specializing in pain management to develop treatment plans best suited to individual patients. Treatments may include injections, oral medications, physio-therapy and counseling.
Javery is concerned that patients are still being stigmatized and often ignored by some in the medical field and by the public. He believes increased education and new diagnostic tools such as PET scans of the brain, are the keys to changing that pattern.
Dr. Javery agrees with much of the new research on Fybromyalgia that indicates that the disease is a neurological versus musculoskeletal one.
He believes the treatments of the future will focus more on the function of Dopamine Receptors. These receptors are found in the central nervous system and other points near nerve endings around organs in the body. Abnormalities in Dopamine neurotransmission have been objectively demonstrated in pain conditions including Fibromyalgia.
The recent flurry of research and the development of new treatment options and diagnostic tools bring validation and hope to the thousands of people suffering the debilitating effects of Fibromyalgia.
For more information about Fibromyalgia visit www.fmnews.com. For information about the Javery Pain Institute go to www.javerypain.com
* Salaffi F, et al.Clin Exp Rheumatology 27(suppl 56):S67-S74, 2009.