New research claims that arranging flowers can ease the pain for those suffering from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder: people living with this condition can experience debilitating pain for weeks together. Researchers are now suggesting novel treatment methods for this mysterious disease. The latest among them: take a course in arranging flowers.
Researchers at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, University of Tel-Aviv, explained that floristry offers “multistimulation therapy” - stimulating multiple senses to produce an overwhelmingly positive impact on patients. Scientists have been using similar techniques to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
What is fibromyalgia?
A musculoskeletal disease, the term fibromyalgia manifests as pain in the muscles and fibrous tissues. The world over 3-4% of the population has fibromyalgia. In India, the prevalence is lower, at 0.5% to 2%. According to the US government statistics, fibromyalgia is more common in women than men. Female patients comprise almost 90% of reported clinical cases.
The actual cause of fibromyalgia is not yet known. Research points to a combination of factors that may contribute to its development. Fibromyalgia is thought to be genetic in some cases. Other factors which are thought to trigger the disease are hormonal imbalances, climate changes and physical injury.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia include chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety and depression. The intensity of pain differs from one person to another. In people living with fibromyalgia, the brain can intensify the pain signals.
Risk factors for fibromyalgia
Apart from genetic reasons, stress, age, family history, physical injury and rheumatic disorders are thought to put people at risk for fibromyalgia.
“Practitioners must diagnose and treat co-morbidities of fibromyalgia,” said Shanda Shribbs, executive director of the National Fibromyalgia Research Association in Salem, U.S., at the Fibromyalgia and Sleep Disorders Scientific Conference, 2008, in Portland. "Untreated restless legs, sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome can have a dramatic impact on sleep and fatigue. Other conditions such as cervical cord compression, irritable bowel syndrome and myofascial pain syndrome are frequent comorbidities which should be considered and treated when they are present," she added.
Diagnosis and treatment options
There is no proper diagnostic test for fibromyalgia. Doctors rely on family history, physical examination, reported symptoms and manual checking of tenderness at critical points to make a diagnosis.
Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. Supportive therapies and medicines can help the patient improve their quality of life. Physiotherapy, yoga practice, acupuncture, massage therapy, analgesics, muscle relaxants and anti seizure drugs, too, can help people living with fibromyalgia to some extent.
Potential dangers include over-dependence on opioid painkillers - extremely powerful pain medication, they contain small amounts of opium and can, therefore, become addictive. People living with chronic pain are also at high risk for depression.
Fibromyalgia is a complex, lifetime disorder. The key goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and minimise discomfort. So far, changes in lifestyle and self-care are the only sustainable ways to cope with the disease. If they work, occupational therapies like multistimulation therapy could break new ground in the treatment of fibromyalgia as well as other medical mysteries.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/fibromyalgia
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Updated Date: Aug 28, 2019 16:21:20 IST
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