Fibromyalgia in Teenagers
Juvenile fibromyalgia is a condition chiefly characterized by musculoskeletal pain affecting multiple areas of the body 3. Pain and poor sleep related to the condition can cause a teenager to miss school, limit involvement in social activities and negatively affect her emotional well-being. Although fibromyalgia affects both teenage boys and girls, the National Fibromyalgia Association reports the disorder is much more common in girls 13. Doctors usually diagnose juvenile fibromyalgia in adolescents when they are 13 to 15 years old 3.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia in teens include joint pain, muscle soreness and fatigue 13. Although pain is often localized at first, it can eventually spread to all four quadrants of the body. Teens describe their fibromyalgia pain as dull, aching, throbbing or burning 13. Joint tenderness, abdominal pain, morning stiffness and irritable bowel syndrome are additional symptoms they can experience. While the cause is unknown, trauma, infection or chronic health problems bring on fibromyalgia in some individuals 3.
In the case of fibromyalgia, pressure applied to certain tender points on the body causes pain 3. Common tender spots include:
- the outer hips
- inner knees
- upper chest
- back of the head
- between the shoulder blades
Although there are 18 tender points on the body that are painful to fibromyalgia patients, teens with fibromyalgia usually feel tenderness and pain in at least five of these tender point areas, according to KidsHealth 13. Pain is widespread and tends to radiate.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for teens with fibromyalgia 13. WebMD explains that CBT helps teenagers manage their pain by identifying their pain triggers. Treatment might also include progressive muscle relaxation, visual imagery and deep-breathing exercises to relieve stress. Regular exercise is another crucial aspect of treatment. Teenagers who remain active usually have less pain and aren’t as likely to suffer depression. Some pediatric rheumatologists also prescribe medications for children and teens with fibromyalgia although the safety and effectiveness of these drugs haven’t been as well researched as in adults 13.
While juvenile fibromyalgia doesn't have a cure, pain and other symptoms usually improve with treatment 3. Depending on the severity of the condition, symptoms can be mild or disabling. New York Methodist Hospital reports that children with fibromyalgia tend to have a better prognosis than adults who have the disorder 134. Research indicates that more than 50 percent of children recover within two to three years while symptoms in adults usually continue over the long term.
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