Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Over five million people in the United States are affected by fibromyalgia, making it one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the country. The most common side effect of this disorder is joint pain, but it can also cause chronic fatigue, memory loss, mood swings, and insufficient sleep. Despite the prevalence of the condition, it can be incredibly challenging to diagnose. In fact, many doctors often misdiagnose lipedema as fibromyalgia and inadvertently put their patients on the incorrect treatment plan, which only prolongs their discomfort. Dr. Jaime Schwartz and the rest of the highly trained staff at Total Lipedema Care in Beverly Hills, CA are experts in identifying the signs of both fibromyalgia and lipedema, allowing them to quickly get you on the correct path to treatment.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA VS. LIPEDEMA?
Signs of fibromyalgia can vary from case to case but usually include one or more of the following:
- Chronic fatigue: Even after long hours of sleep, many patients still find themselves tired due to pain or sleep apnea.
- Lack of focus: Patients can experience difficulty focusing and concentrating on everyday tasks due to distractions from their pain or fatigue.
- Widespread pain: Related pain can last around three months and exist on both sides of the body.
On the other hand, lipedema can cause many of these same side effects, though the root of the problem is completely different. Lipedema induces irregular deposits of fat in the legs, which can spread to the upper body if the disorder is left untreated. These pockets of fat can lead to fatigue and pain that could possibly be mischaracterized as fibromyalgia.
CAUSES AND DIAGNOSIS
While the causes of both fibromyalgia and lipedema are unknown, research has shown that there may be several causes for the conditions, such as genetics, infections, and physical or emotional trauma. Additionally, several groups of people have proven to be more likely to develop fibromyalgia or lipedema, including females and those diagnosed with lupus or arthritis. In order to eliminate any other possible diagnoses, a blood test is usually administered before it can be certain.
WHAT ARE MY TREATMENT OPTIONS?
If you are given an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia, there are many treatment options to help you move forward. Usually, Dr. Schwartz will simply recommend a combination of medication and physical/occupational therapy. However, some patients may require other alternatives, including acupuncture, meditation, and lifestyle changes. As fibromyalgia is often related to stress, these treatments can help to relax the mind and hopefully alleviate any pain or soreness. When deciding on your specific treatment plan, we will keep your symptoms and medical history in mind to create a strategy that is tailored to your needs.
Alternatively, treatment for lipedema can be a bit more complex as there is no single treatment that can effectively resolve the disorder. Through a combination of proper exercise, diet, emotional support, and management of co-existing health problems, Dr. Jaime Schwartz will be able to get you back on the right track. In many cases, the use of a conservative treatment known as complex decongestive therapy (CDT) may be employed. This utilizes manual lymph drainage, compression therapy, and physical mobilization in order to further combat the effects of lipedema. In cases where these solutions are not resolving the issues, liposuction or excision of the afflicted tissue may be considered.