Widespread pain throughout all or most of your musculoskeletal system is the key feature of fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia symptoms but are struggling to get the diagnosis and treatment you need, board-certified neurologist Miguel Pappolla, MD, at St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine in Houston, Texas, can help. Dr. Pappolla and his team understand the many challenges people with fibromyalgia face and offer practical ways to help you cope. You can benefit from their expertise by calling the office or booking an appointment online today.

Fibromyalgia Q & A

  • What is fibromyalgia syndrome?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, debilitating disorder in which you experience severe musculoskeletal pain. The cause of fibromyalgia is unclear, but it doesn't involve the obvious tissue damage that you would see in a condition like arthritis. Twenty years ago, fibromyalgia was thought to be a psychological disorder because the technology and tests available back then could not show anything abnormal. However, several important recent studies using advanced newer brain imaging techniques have identified abnormal modulation of pain signals. The new discoveries revealed the organic nature of the condition. Also, several studies have also shown pain originating in abnormal peripheral nerves (small fiber neuropathy). All of this new research showed that it is NOT a psychological problem and the pain is real. 

If you have fibromyalgia, you may find it worsens in response to certain triggers, including:

  • Overexertion
  • Cold weather. 
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Fibromyalgia often changes people's lives. You may feel unable to cope and have poor self-esteem due to your inability to function effectively in everyday life. 

Although fibromyalgia is not curable, new treatments are now becoming available to significantly reduce pain and make it much more tolerable.

  • What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Pain over most or all of your body
  • Joint tenderness
  • Morning stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory problems

The cognitive difficulties that typically affect fibromyalgia patients are known collectively as "fibro fog."

People with fibromyalgia frequently suffer from other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic headaches, temporomandibular disorders, arthritis, depression and anxiety, and chemical sensitivity syndromes.

  • How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Diagnosing fibromyalgia isn't a straightforward process, as there are no lab tests that can confirm you have the condition.

Dr. Pappolla sometimes may needs to rule out any other possible causes for your symptoms and perform a detailed neurological assessment. You might also need to have blood tests, diagnostic imaging scans, an electromyogram (EMG), and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests.

  • Are there any treatments for fibromyalgia?

Treating fibromyalgia is challenging, as you may be sensitive to some medications. Dr. Pappolla creates a personalized treatment program for you that addresses the pain and other symptoms you're experiencing.

Sometimes anti-seizure medications and low-dose tricyclic antidepressants can help. Pain management techniques and counseling can also be useful, and it's important to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid smoking and drinking
  • Stick to a regular bedtime
  • Lose excess weight
  • Exercise gently but regularly

Fibromyalgia doesn't progress in the way a disease like multiple sclerosis would, but neither is there a cure as yet. If you're finding it hard each day to cope with your fibromyalgia symptoms, call St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine or book an appointment online today.

Areas Covered

Houston Metropolitan Area, Sugar Land, Humble, Katie, Pasadena, Friendswood & Clear Lake

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