Fibromyalgia is a chronic and painful disorder that affects both children and adults. Its symptoms in children include generalized pain, muscle fatigue, sleep problem and an unusual state of mind. Read on to know more.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a painful disease that causes debilitating weakness and intense pain in several parts of the body. It is a chronic condition that worsens with age. The associated symptoms are so many and unpredictable, that it is often considered as a syndrome (FMS), rather than just a disease. As per statistics, fibromyalgia affects approximately 2 – 4 percent of the world’s population, in which 5 million people are Americans.
Previously, fibromyalgia was considered to be an adult’s disease. But, recently it is found that it affects both children and adults. In fact, one out of every six fibromyalgia patients in America are children. Also, according to medical data, girls are at a higher risk of developing this painful syndrome than boys. Even though the disease condition remains the same for all patients, fibromyalgia symptoms in children are somewhat different from the signs and symptoms in adults.
Fibromyalgia in children is mostly manifested during the teenage years, that is when a child turns 13. Unlike adult patients who usually have tenderness in more than 11 pressure points (out of 18), the tender points affected by fibromyalgia in children are less (5-11). The notable symptoms include:
Children suffering from fibromyalgia may complain about sleep issues and sleep deprivation frequently. Usually, sleep does not come to them easily and they have to struggle to get proper sleep at night. Consequently, in the day time they get tired very soon due to lack of sleep.
Children having fibromyalgia will experience chronic pain in all the body parts. They may report sharp and burning pain in the muscles and stiffness of joints.
Increased fatigue is the most common symptom of fibromyalgia manifested in children, which may be because of sleep deprivation or body pain. They get exhausted easily without any apparent reason.
A child having fibromyalgia may experience lack of concentration, mood swings and anxiety. They get depressed without reason and show lack of interest in any activity.
The exact causes are not known, however, doctors are of the opinion that genetic predisposition is the major reason for developing fibromyalgia. Thus, the offspring of affected parents have higher chances of developing this chronic condition than other children. Also, children who have preexisting health problems like sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
Diagnosis and Treatment
As there are no significant symptoms that rule out fibromyalgia from other medical problems, it is very difficult to identify in the early stages. Also, the worst part is that it is not identifiable in laboratory tests like blood tests or x-ray imaging tests. Hence, majority of the children make several visits to the doctor before actually diagnosing the condition.
For diagnosis of fibromyalgia in children, the doctor may examine the symptoms and sensitiveness of the pressure points upon application of pressure. Other diagnostic methods may also be performed to rule out other medical problems. After confirmation, the doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and other medication for combating the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia. Apart from the prescription medicines, cognitive behavioral therapy and proper diet are very important for its treatment in children.
During therapy sessions, the child may be taught to cope with the painful symptoms by positive thinking methods and relaxation techniques. As parents, it is to be borne in mind that symptoms in children are exacerbated by emotional and physical stress. Thus, one should be very sensitive towards a child patient and monitor him or her in every step. On the brighter side, it is not a long-term condition as that in adults. And very often, positive recovery from fibromyalgia is observed in child patients.