Women: Could your pain be fibromyalgia?

(StatePoint) With its confusing overlap of symptoms, fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) can be a nightmare for the five million Americans — 90 percent of them women — who suffer from it.

Although the set of symptoms will vary from patient to patient, having two or more of the most common symptoms might justify a trip to your doctor to get checked out and learn more about the condition. If you’re among those who have FM, or suspect you might be among them, then getting accurate information is the first step toward an effective course of treatment.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up — your symptoms may not be a coincidence,” says Dr. Seth Lederman, physician and CEO of Tonix Pharmaceuticals, a company developing treatments for FM pain.

Here are five basic questions to ask your doctor to get a firm grip on understanding your FM:

• What is FM? Your doctor will explain how FM encompasses a range of symptoms that can include pain all over your body, sleep problems, fatigue, memory problems, (“fibro-fog”) and many others. Additionally, common FM symptoms may encompass recurrent headaches, tingling and digestive problems.

• Can exercise offer pain relief? It seems like a contradiction, but some research suggests that hitting the gym and getting regular exercise may produce relief from FM pain. Your doctor may say it is okay to exercise through your “normal” pain levels, but if exercise causes the pain to worsen significantly, back off.

• How can I sleep better? Your doctor will likely explain what you might already suspect: Sleep quality plays a major role in the severity of FM symptoms. Many FM patients report a lack of restful sleep. Studies have shown this is due to increased brain vigilance at the time when the deepest sleep cycle should be occurring.

With an eye on helping FM patients with sleep problems, New York-based Tonix Pharmaceuticals is reformulating an existing muscle relaxant called cyclobenzaprine into a low-dose under-the-tongue tablet taken at bedtime. Tonix is testing its drug in a study this year. Ask your doctor about participating in the clinical trial called BESTFIT.

• Where does my pain originate? Although in a prior era FM patients came under the care of rheumatologists, this view has since evolved. Your doctor will tell you that FM is a disorder of the central nervous system.

• Can my diet help my symptoms? No diet, no matter how well planned, will “cure” fibromyalgia. But your doctor may point out that a diet rich in antioxidants (e.g., full of fruits and vegetables) can help maximize health by minimizing the level of oxidative stress that can occur in the body’s tissues.

Don’t grin and bear signs of FM. Schedule a doctor’s visit to determine the cause of your symptoms.

For more information, visit www.TonixPharma.com.

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