Fibromyalgia

Learning to live with the illness

Chronic pain in multiple regions of the body? This could be fibromyalgia, or “fibre-muscle-pain.” Fibromyalgia is a chronic, non-inflammatory pain syndrome of the musculoskeletal system. It may be an independent disorder, but can also occur as part of a rheumatic illness. Those affected experience a significant level of suffering, in addition to limitations in their quality of life.

Our specialists at Schoen Clinic focus on both the body and mind. With multi-modal pain therapy and other effective methods of treatment, we help you become better at managing your chronic pain.

Causes & symptoms

Causes: How fibromyalgia develops

As of today, it is not clear what the underlying causes of the disease are. Currently it is assumed to be a bio-psycho-social disease, based on a breakdown in the perception of pain. Risk factors for developing fibromyalgia include mental and physical stressors in the workplace as well as certain depressive tendencies. A genetic predisposition is also under consideration as a factor, as there is familial incidence to be found. Disruptions in the metabolism of serotonin may also play a role.

The pain in muscles and tendons is triggered by tension that in turn causes further muscle tenseness. This results in a vicious circle that is extremely difficult to break. The result is chronic pain.

Fibromyalgia: Symptoms indicating a disorder

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are persistent pain of varying intensity and localisation, in addition to tenderness in certain points (“tender points”). The pain is scattered and occurs primarily around the muscles and tendons. Many other complaints are present as well. These include stiffness in the morning, fatigue, insomnia, depressive moods, as well as complaints in other organ systems, such as digestion problems.

Over time, the patient’s entire life comes to revolve solely around pain. Most patients feel that activity, stress and movement are more likely to be harmful. Thus they avoid movement and stress. The potential consequences are poor posture and weakened musculature.

If the patients don’t feel understood in their environment, this can also lead to conflicts at home, at work and in friendship circles. This in turn results in social withdrawal and even depression.

Diagnostics

Fibromyalgia – Diagnosis: How we diagnose this disease

Whether fibromyalgia is present must be substantially clarified by multiple specialities. This is why, at Schoen Clinic, we do interdisciplinary work with other pain therapists, psychosomatics, neurologists, internists and orthopaedic specialists to form the diagnosis.

Dialogue and medical tests

First we have a detailed discussion with you about your medical history. We’ll ask you about the duration and severity of your illness, among other things. Because symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, drive and sleep disorders can also indicate other illnesses, we investigate them very carefully. We’ll also consider your impairments in your daily routine, your anxieties around illness and psychosocial stressors. This is followed by a detailed clinical examination. This includes rheumatism factors, inflammation parameters, thyroid levels and polyneuropathy parameters, among other things. An internal or neurological examination is also possible if needed.

Specialist psychotherapeutic examinations

If there are severe psychosocial stressors, pre-existing psychiatric conditions or even if you find it difficult to cope with your illness, specialist psychotherapeutic examinations can be useful. A behavioural analysis can be very helpful in probing the causes of persistent and intensifying conditions as well as individual stressors. Finally, psychological testing questionnaires complete the diagnosis.