Fibromyalgia Symptoms NJ

National findings suggest better understanding and support may empower people to seek help early for fibromyalgia symptoms

(ARA) – Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects up to 12 million Americans. What’s worse is that 70 percent of people with fibromyalgia are undiagnosed.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain and tenderness, decreased physical function, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. It is most common among women ages 20 to 50, but it can also affect men.

According to a national survey, most people (70 percent) suffering from fibromyalgia delay pursuing medical help because they think their symptoms will go away. People experiencing fibromyalgia symptoms most commonly wait up to three years before seeking help from a healthcare professional, yet 55 percent of those surveyed said that once they did see a healthcare professional, it turned out to be a good decision.

“It took me nearly six years to get my fibromyalgia diagnosed,” says Penney Cowan, founder and executive director of the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), a co-sponsor of the surveys. “If there is one thing I can tell a person with fibromyalgia, it would be to be proactive. If you experience fibromyalgia symptoms, don’t wait. Seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as you can.”

The survey findings show that when people with fibromyalgia were experiencing symptoms, they were dissatisfied with their ability to carry out their daily routine, perform duties at work and take care of others and their overall health. Yet, while people with fibromyalgia have difficulty performing routine tasks, such as driving, sitting for long periods and doing household chores, many in the general public are unaware that these everyday activities can be a struggle for them.

“As a doctor who has been treating fibromyalgia for several years, I’m encouraged by surveys like these that increase the conversation about the condition,” says Dr. Beth Hodges, a physician specializing in fibromyalgia, who is located in Asheboro, N.C. “I urge people who think they may have fibromyalgia to seek help from their healthcare provider without delay. The sooner they are diagnosed, the sooner they can begin an effective management plan.”

There are FDA-approved medications that can help manage the symptoms of fibromyalgia, as well as lifestyle changes that may be appropriate. Although no specific diet is shown to relieve symptoms, a healthy and balanced diet can increase energy levels and alertness, and help prevent other health problems. People with fibromyalgia may also benefit from moderate exercise, such as low-impact aerobics or daily stretching.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of fibromyalgia, schedule a visit soon to speak with your doctor about your symptoms.

Preparing for the doctor: A checklist for people in pain by the ACPA

* Before going to see a doctor or other healthcare professional, be prepared with a list of questions. Keep track of your symptoms and how you respond to things you do to relieve your symptoms (eg, taking aspirin for pain or changing your diet)

* List every medication you take. This includes prescription and nonprescription medications and dietary supplements, such as vitamins. For each one, note the impact on your symptoms. Did symptoms improve, get worse or stay the same? If you’re not sure, then state that.

* Keep notes on your level of functioning. Include changes in appetite, sleep, endurance and concentration. And write down any questions you may have.

* If possible, take someone with you to the doctor. Ask him or her to listen carefully to what the doctor says and to ask anything you forget to ask.

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