Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep and mood disturbances. Researchers believe fibromyalgia amplifies pain sensations by affecting how the brain and spinal cord process pain and non-pain signals. Fibromyalgia is generally considered an adult disease. However, fibromyalgia also occurs in children and adolescents. Juvenile fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2-6% of school children, mostly teenage girls. It is most often diagnosed between the ages of 13 and 15.
Symptoms of juvenile fibromyalgia
In some children, symptoms begin after a triggering event. Such as physical trauma, surgery, infection or prolonged psychological stress. In other children, symptoms accumulate gradually over time without a single triggering event.
In children with fibromyalgia, signs and symptoms include
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is often described as a dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered generalized, the pain must be on both sides of the body and above and below the waist.
Frequent headaches occur in the majority of children with fibromyalgia.
Despite complaints of significant fatigue, these children often take an hour or more to fall asleep. Even when they do fall asleep, many have difficulty maintaining sleep and wake up during the night.
People with fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Many children with fibromyalgia suffer from other sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome.
Children with fibromyalgia may also have pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, along with constipation or diarrhea. They may also have difficulty paying attention or concentrating. Depression and anxiety are common in people with fibromyalgia.
Possible Causes of Juvenile Inflammation
Doctors don’t know why some people develop fibromyalgia and others don’t. There seems to be a genetic component. This disease tends to run in families. In some people, it can be triggered by specific events, injuries, or illnesses.
Why does bromyalgia hurt?
Researchers believe that repeated nerve stimulation leads to changes in the brain and spinal cord of people with fibromyalgia. These changes include an abnormal increase in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain. Also, pain receptors in the brain seem to develop a kind of pain memory and become sensitized, which means they can overreact to pain and non-pain signals.
Risk factors for juvenile fibromyalgia
Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
Fibromyalgia is more often diagnosed in girls and women.
You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a parent or sibling also has it.
If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
Complications of juvenile fibromyalgia
The pain and lack of sleep associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with the ability to function at school or at home. The frustration of dealing with an often misunderstood condition can lead to depression and anxiety.
Diagnosis of juvenile fibromyalgia
In the old days, doctors would check specific points on a person’s body to see how many of them hurt when pressed firmly. The new guidelines no longer require an examination of sensitive points.
In contrast, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made, according to adult guidelines, if a young person has had widespread pain throughout the body for at least three months. Generalized pain is defined as pain on both sides of the body, as well as above and below the waist.
Your doctor may also order blood tests or x-rays to help rule out other issues that could be causing the symptoms.
Treatment of juvenile fibromyalgia
Treatment for juvenile fibromyalgia may include exercise programs and lifestyle counseling
Graded Exercise Therapy
Many children with fibromyalgia avoid physical activity for fear of further pain. It may be helpful to begin with strength exercises to improve gait, posture, and balance. Activities such as cycling, swimming or water aerobics can be added gradually.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that has been well studied in the treatment of chronic pain in children. It aims to help them manage their pain by using techniques such as relaxation-based treatments and meditation. These techniques can help reduce disability and depression. The combination of an exercise program and cognitive behavioral therapy can provide significant benefits.
Self-care is essential in the management of juvenile fibromyalgia:
Develop a plan to avoid or limit overwork and emotional stress. Give yourself time each day to relax. It can mean learning to say no without guilt. Try stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation.
Fatigue being one of the main components of fibromyalgia, it is essential to get enough sleep. In addition to allocating enough time for sleep, adopt good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, limiting naps during the day, and limiting the use of digital screens at night. .
At first, exercise may increase pain. But doing it gradually and regularly often lessens the symptoms. Appropriate exercises may include walking, swimming, cycling, and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching, good posture and relaxation exercises are also helpful.
Do things at their own pace
Maintain activity at a consistent level. If you overdo it on the good days, there’s a chance there will be more bad days. Moderation means not overdoing it on good days, but also not limiting yourself or doing too little on days when symptoms occur.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle for the child
Eat healthy foods. Limit your caffeine intake. Do something that you find enjoyable and satisfying every day.
Yoga, tai chi and qigong combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing and relaxation. In adults with fibromyalgia, these practices can decrease sleep problems, fatigue, and depression. It can be the same for children.
Other related strategies include massage and acupuncture. These practices can also help decrease pain, improve fatigue, reduce anxiety, and promote better quality sleep.
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Kimura Y, et al. Fibromyalgia in children and adolescents: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Accessed Aug. 10, 2020.
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