Rheumatology is a branch of medicine that deals with the investigation, diagnosis and management of patients with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.
This incorporates over 200 disorders affecting joints, bones, muscles and soft tissues, for example:
Fibromyalgia is a non-inflammatory condition characterised by widespread chronic pain, which can be associated with a myriad of other symptoms including fatigue, depression and poor sleep, as well as difficulty with thinking clearly or remembering things (brain fog). Learning to manage the condition is the most successful way of dealing with fibromyalgia.
It is a long-term condition, so education, pacing of activities, slowly increasing exercise and psychological support is all-important, with focus on the following features of management as appropriate to each individual.
General practitioners diagnose and treat patients with fibromyalgia in primary care, and it is not necessary to have the diagnosis confirmed by a rheumatologist. Specialist support services (such as specialist physiotherapy or psychological services) for people with fibromyalgia is not available in our rheumatology department. You would only be seen in rheumatology if there is a real concern that there could be an alternative diagnosis of an inflammatory rheumatic disease.
Initial management should focus on non-pharmacological therapies. The following resources are a useful starting point if you are living with fibromyalgia.
The following patient information resources can help you learn more about the condition and how to self-manage it.
The following information will help you to manage your pain better. Meditative movement therapies such as yoga and tai chi have also shown some benefit in fibromyalgia.
Ask your GP to signpost you to local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), or complete their on-line self-referral form via: Self referral form | Bolton | IAPT Portal; or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Medication should not be the first line therapy for chronic pain, but anti-depressants may help with pain and sleep, even in those without a diagnosis of depression. Your GP is best placed to give advice on appropriate medication.
When suffering with a long-term condition it is common to feel isolated. There are many condition-specific self-help groups that are run either by individuals, groups or charities. A search for Fibromyalgia self-help groups will provide information regarding what is available nearby, e.g. FMA UK – FMA UK – UK’s National charity for fibromyalgia.
Tel: 01204 462722