Fibromyalgia (sometimes referred to as FM) is a condition which causes a throbbing, aching pain in muscles and tendons anywhere in the body. It can affect anyone (the NHS estimate that between 2 and 4.5 per cent of people in the UK suffer) and it can strike at any age, including during childhood. Some people with fibromyalgia also experience a heightened sense of physical sensitivity so that the slightest contact is uncomfortable, and find that bright lights and tiredness make it worse.
It isn’t known exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but scientists believe it may be associated with problems sleeping. As well as persistent muscle pain (pain that has lasted more than three months) fibromyalgia in kids can start with fluey symptoms, and make them very restless while they sleep. Kids may also be physically twitchy or restless, have difficulty concentrating properly and suffer from headaches, diarrhoea and insomnia. They may also feel that their hands and feet are swollen, even though they appear normal to look at. Alongside these symptoms there’s a general sense of being very tired and run down, which is often worse in the morning.
Since a lot of these symptoms are quite common in all kids from time to time, it’s important to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis. This will involve your doctor pressing gently on those specific parts of the body which, for the fibromyalgia sufferer, will be particularly tender or painful.
Fibromyalgia is an awkward and uncomfortable condition and the symptoms can lower anyone’s quality of life. As well as the physical aspects, it may cause kids to feel upset and depressed. At present there is no complete cure for it, but there are treatments which will lessen its impact and help kids live with the disease. These include exercises, heated pool treatment, painkillers and antidepressants. The key though, to helping kids with the condition, is ensuring they get plenty of sleep at night, making sure they take exercise (even though this will hurt at first) and providing a supportive emotional environment. These, combined with prescribed medication, will help your child live a completely normal life with fibromyalgia.
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