Fibromyalgia is considered a Central Nervous System (CNS) disorder in which the pain is induced by low-level stimuli that do not normally elicit painful sensations. It is characterized by extensive skeleton and musculature pain along with mood swings, memory damage, fatigue, and sleep.
Researchers claim that fibromyalgia increases the aching sensations by influencing the system of how the spinal cord and the brain respond to the non-painful and painful stimuli.
Fibromyalgia in Men
Commonly fibromyalgia is referred to as a “woman’s disease.” Although the process to diagnose this disorder in men is different but the truth is that men are also likely to suffer from such conditions. According to an estimate, almost 4.8% of men across the world suffer from fibromyalgia.
Besides this fact, the ratio of this disease is much higher in women than in men. Men are less likely to be attacked by fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Men
Symptoms of fibromyalgia usually appear after a traumatic event like infection, remarkable physiological stress, physical trauma, or surgery. If there is no such traumatic event, the symptoms may be seen accumulating with the passage of time.
- Fibro Fog -Fibro fog is a cognitive dysfunction that is also sometimes referred to as brain fog. Fibro fog impairs the ability to concentrate on mental tasks, focus, confusion, attention along with memory deficits.
- Extensive pain –The patient suffering from fibromyalgia experiences constant pain that may last for at least three months or more. This pain is usually felt above, below, and both sides of the body.
- Fatigue –The patients suffering from fibromyalgia may experience extreme tiredness, exhaustion, weariness, and drowsiness. Patients may experience sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.
Other symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Postural Tachycardia Syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Painful bladder Syndrome (Interstitial cystitis)
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder(3)
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia in men
In the start, the Tender Points Test was a known method to diagnose fibromyalgia in suffering patients. In this test, there were 18 points in the body which were pressed hard to see if these points are producing localized pain or not. These points are termed as fibromyalgia Tender Points. These include knees, elbows, hips, neck, shoulders, chest, below and above the waist, and on both sides of the body.
Now it is believed that the Tender Points test is not required to diagnose fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is now diagnosed with extensive pain in the whole body for at least 3 months or more. For a positive diagnosis, the patient should be suffering from pain in four to five specific areas:
- Axial Region (including back, abdomen, neck, and chest)
- Left Lower Region (including buttock, hips, and legs)
- Right Lower Region (including buttock, hips, and legs)
- Left Upper Region (including jaws, shoulders, and arms)
- Right Upper Region (including jaws, shoulders, and arms)
In case if the patient is suffering from some serious sleep disorder or Sleep Apnea, an overnight sleep study may be recommended.
Management Strategies for Fibromyalgia
Till now, there is no accepted cure or treatment for fibromyalgia. Its treatment is thought to be the management of symptoms including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, patient education, prescribed exercise, prescribed medication, and behavioral intervention. These management strategies are thought to be an effective way to relieve the pain and alleviating other fibromyalgia-related symptoms.
Strong evidence favor that the patients suffering from fibromyalgia should have good exercise on daily basis. Exercise reduces fatigue, pain, depression, anxiety, and restlessness along with the improvement of fitness. Aerobic Exercise is also known as a good management strategy for adult fibromyalgia patients. Studies have shown that it reduces pain, and helps in the improvement of physical functioning. To reduce the stiffness of the body, aerobic training is often recommended but it does not have long-term effects. Adult fibromyalgia patients are supposed to get aquatic training to reduce the symptoms and increase their well-being.
Art therapy and music therapy are also known as a good solution to treat young fibromyalgia patients. According to the evidence, these strategies have been extremely effective that 88% of the individuals were seen with much lesser pain and the effects were exhibited in the long term.
Although small but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to have a beneficial effect in relieving pain and reducing stress. According to the studies, it was reported that CBT highly reduces pain and it improves the self-power. It is also observed that after the treatment, CBT greatly reduces the depression level and anxiety attacks.
Although no strong evidence favors the high effectiveness of these therapies on fibromyalgia patients it is seen that mind-body therapy has the ability to improve physical as well as physiological well-being. It is observed that this therapy actively involves the patient in the treatment as they focus on interacting with the body, behavior, and brain.
Among these therapies, Tai Chi, Yoga, Mindfulness, and biofeedback therapies are generally known. These therapies improve health by controlling heart rate, temperature, muscle tension, and blood pressure. Besides their positive effects, their side effects are also highlighted if they are used on a long-term basis.
For the treatment of Fibromyalgia, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration of the US) and Health Canada have approved a few medications. Prescribed Anti-depressants are known to improve depression, sleep disturbances, and fatigue in a fibromyalgia patients.
Prescribed Anti-Seizure Medications are also recommended for some patients to treat fibromyalgia. Evidence shows that Anti-seizures has a great ability to reduce pain and depression. Among the benefits, side-effects are also considered while using them. The patient may experience abnormal walking or dizziness after their long-term use.
Although the ratio of suffering from fibromyalgia is much less in men than women it also hits them up and accidental events such as trauma, accidents, or severe stress attacks have been found to be the main reason behind.