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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a persistent widespread pain disorder and is second only to osteoarthritis and spinal pain as the most common condition seen in pain management and rheumatology clinics.
It affects quality of life by impairing a patient’s ability to function and participate in everyday activities, affecting relationships with family and friends.
Fibromyalgia is becoming increasingly common. Recent studies suggest up to 5% of the population is likely to suffer from the condition. Onset typically occurs in middle age, but it can be diagnosed in people of any age. It is more common in women than in men.
Along with this, they can have other symptoms such as migraine, facial pain, irritable bowel syndrome, low mood, intolerance to cold, chronic fatigue, chest pain, widespread numbness and pins and needles and feelings of fatigue. All of these are referred jointly as fibromyalgia syndrome.
Fibromyalgia pain can often be unrelenting and debilitating. It is experienced as generalised, head-to-toe aching or sometimes a burning sensation. It can fluctuate at different times and can be experienced in different areas of the body.
Diagnosis should be accompanied by a thorough explanation of the condition that acknowledges the pain is real, not imagined. Patients are most satisfied by explanations that remove blame, take into account psychological and biological factors, and suggest concrete ideas for management.
With the right combination of therapies, pain becomes less intense and is more manageable, enabling patients to have better function and quality of life.
We offer a personalised approach including any or all of the above options can be provided after initial consultation.
It can take up to 3 to 6 months for most fibromyalgia patients to be seen by an NHS specialist. In the private healthcare sector, there are group-based programmes available for such patients.
For those seeking an individually-focused rehabilitation approach, we offer the chance to step on to a bespoke fibromyalgia rehabilitation programme just a week to 10 days after the first consultation. Fibromyalgia is often associated with fatigue, and disturbed or fragmented sleep can amplify patients’ pain: we will address and provide appropriate advice on sleep hygiene and managing sleep.
At our hospitals, we have a set of state-of-the-art therapeutic and exercise equipment unique in the UK outside specialist facilities for armed forces personnel, police officers and professional sportsmen and women. Machines which may be particularly beneficial for fibromyalgia patients include the Hydro Physio, an aquatic treadmill allowing patients to exercise their muscles and joints supported and their pain eased by the water around them.