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The American College of Rheumatology suggests specific criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Certain tender points must be obvious. There are 18 tender points altogether, 11 tender points must be evident for a positive diagnosis. Each tender point is found on both sides of the body. They include the front of the neck near the collarbone, below the collarbone over the second rib, the base of head, across the shouder blades, upper buttocks, hips, knees and elbows.The second criterion for diagnosing the condition is widespread pain that lasts for more than three months.
Exhaustion is often evident in the condition as well.
There are no specific diagnostic tests for the condition. Coping with fibromyalgia is difficult and should be monitored by a rheumatoid specialist.
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Living with Fibromyalgia
Coping with fibromyalgia is something that the individual has to accept. Since there is no cure and no real treatment, learning to reduce the pain and exhaustion is the only means to living a fairly normal life.
Medications, such ass analgesics for pain and antidepressants for sleep, can help diminish certain symptoms. Anti-seizure medications, such as Lyrica, the only medication approved by the FDA, are being used for certain pains.
Physical therapy and massage have been helpful for some patients. Home remedies and diet have been explored. Some sufferers benefit from some of these treatments, and others do not.
Keeping busy and not allowing the condition to limit activity is key to living a more normal life. It is hard to move when every step you take results in pain, but it can be more traumatic if a person gives up and limits their movement. Re-energizing the muscles can be more painful when they have been sitting for long periods, than keeping them in motion.
Get enough rest by keeping a routine that can prepare the body for rest at a certain time. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salts can help to relax the muscles.
Joining a support group can help sufferers share their experiences and methods of coping with fibromyalgia. Releasing some of the stress that comes with having such a condition with others that experience the same feelings can be beneficial, and promote more coping skills.
Some sufferers maintain a journal that can point certain triggers causing symptoms to worsen. Certain weather conditions have been reported to create more pain as well as certain activity like running or constant repetitive movement. Keeping the journal will help to discover what triggers to avoid and what treatments work for the individual.
Until more research can reveal a cause and cure, sufferers will have to learn how to cope with the condition. Learning to think positively for the future and the present can be a step in the right direction.
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National Fibromyalgia Foundation
Mayo Clinic: Fibromyalgia
Cushing’s Help and Support: Coping with Fibromyalgia