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Understanding Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by extensive musculoskeletal pain that comes with fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.

According to Hanchiang News, fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions that affect an estimated 10 million people in the United States and an estimated 3 to 6 per cent of the world population.

A recent survey by the South East Asia Fibromyalgia Awareness, Concerns and Trends Survey showed that fibromyalgia is a poorly understood condition, which has a negative impact on people’s quality of life.

In Malaysia, although the number of fibromyalgia cases are on the rise, there is still a lack of understanding about the condition.

Lengthy diagnosis times is of particular issue for sufferers. Patients wait for an average of 4 to 16 months and have an average of two doctor visits before receiving an accurate diagnosis.


Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it is most likely due to a combination of many factors.

  • Genetics. Fibromyalgia is common in families. Certain genetic mutations can make individuals more susceptible to developing the disorder.
  • Infections. Some forms of illness can trigger or worsen fibromyalgia.
  • Physical or emotional trauma. Fibromyalgia can sometimes be triggered by a physical trauma, such as a car accident. Psychological stress may also trigger the condition.

What causes it to hurt?

According to the Mayoclinic, researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brain to change.

This change involves an unusual increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters).

In addition, the brain’s pain receptors can have some kind of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning the pain receptors can overreact to the pain signals.


According to a website called Healthline, there are several symptoms of fibromyalgia. These include:

  • dull, aching pain  (sakit yang berulang-ulang serta berdenyut-denyut) on both sides of a person’s body and above and below a person’s waist
  • fatigue (keletihan yang keterlaluan)
  • trouble remembering and concentrating, sometimes called “fibro fog”


Fibromyalgia can be difficult to manage, hence medical attention is required.

An individual treatment plan is necessary as each patient will experience a different set of symptoms

Treatment according to Medical News Today may include some or all of the following:


Drugs may be recommended to treat certain symptoms.

These may include over-the-counter (OTC) (ubat-ubatan yang mudah didapatkan dari kaunter) pain killers.

Antidepressants, such as duloxetine, or Cymbalta, and milnacipran, or Savella, may help reduce pain.

Anti-seizure drugs, such as gabapentin also known as Neurontin, and pregabalin, or Lyrica, may be prescribed.

However, a review has suggested that patients often stop using these drugs because they are not effective in relieving pain or because of their unpleasants effects.

Patients should tell their doctor about any other medications they are taking to avoid side-effects and interactions with other drugs.


In some patients, a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training, or strength training, has been related to a decrease in pain, sensitivity, stiffness (kesukaran bergerak), and sleep disturbance, in some patients.

If exercise is helping with symptoms, it is important to maintain consistency in order to see progress.

Exercising with a partner or personal trainer may help to keep the exercise program active.


Some patients have experienced improvements in their quality of life after starting acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia.

The number of sessions required will depend on the symptoms and their severity.

One study found that 1 in 5 people with fibromyalgia use acupuncture within 2 years of diagnosis.

The researchers concluded that it may improve pain and stiffness. However, more studies are required to confirm the findings.

 Behavior modification therapy

Behavior modification therapy is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that aims to reduce negative, stress or pain-increasing behaviours and improve positive, mindful behaviours. This includes learning new coping skills and relaxation exercises. 


Since there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, many people with fibromyalgia have learnt to manage their condition so that they can continue to live their lives fully despite their symptoms.

Pain and fatigue are usual conditions for nearly everyone having fibromyalgia.

According to the WebMD medical website, while those symptoms can be challenging, individuals don’t have to put their lives on hold because of these symptoms.

Living with fibromyalgia indicates making adjustments, when it comes to working, parenting responsibilities,  household chores and having fun.

When individuals take a more active role in managing their conditions, he or she may feel a sense of control, have better self-esteem and is able to live a good quality of life.

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