Jerry Pryde, MD, MPH, CIME (Clinical Chief, Department of Rehabilitation, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) gives expert video advice on: What is "fibromyalgia"?; How can physical rehabilitation help me with chronic pain and fibromyalgia?
What is "fibromyalgia"?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome, the cause of which we don't really know exactly. The criterion for fibromyalgia is that the physician has ruled out any other possible source of the pain. If you're not able to identify an inciting cause for the fibromyalgia and the patient meets specific physical examination criteria, then you could give the patient a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. However that's what we call a diagnosis of exclusion. You only give somebody a diagnosis of fibromyalgia if you have looked for every other possible cause of that physical pain and all tests have been negative for any possibility of other causes.
How can physical rehabilitation help me with chronic pain and fibromyalgia?
Physical medicine can help with chronic pain primarily by evaluating and diagnosing the problem first of all. We want to know what the source of the pain is, and then hopefully you'll be able to treat that specific cause of the pain. If the patient has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia because the physician is not able to find any other source for the pain, then the goal is to help the patient tolerate the pain that they're experiencing. There are many different ways to do that, but there's no one good way to treat a patient with fibromyalgia. What one person with fibromyalgia responds to will be very different than what the next person will. But some of the things that we would take a look at are medications, exercise programs, homeopathy, physical therapy, massage, and adjusting a patient's physical activity program. Acupuncture is a possibility. So there are many different ways to treat somebody with fibromyalgia, but it's always a different story. The treatment for somebody with fibromyalgia is always very individualized.