Written by: Ivanhoe Broadcast Services
According to the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia occurs in about two percent of the population in the United States.
Women are more likely to develop the disorder, and the risk increases with age.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Patients with the condition also suffer from fatigue and have multiple tender points, which are places on the body where slight pressure can cause pain.
These points may include the back of the head, areas between the shoulder blades, the tops of the shoulders, the front sides of the neck, the upper chest, the outer elbows, the upper hips, the sides of hips, and the inner knees.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases, there is no triggering event.
Many patients with fibromyalgia also have co-existing conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, endometriosis, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, restless legs syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
Treating the condition may include both medication and self-care.
Some drugs like acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen may ease pain and stiffness. Doctors might also prescribe antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs for patients with fibromyalgia.
Physical therapy may restore muscle balance and reduce pain for these patients. Counseling is another option that teaches patients how to deal with stressful situations.
According to a preliminary study conducted at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, ultraviolet light may help relieve pain in patients with fibromyalgia.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, included 19 fibromyalgia patients who were exposed to both UV and non-UV light. The patients were asked to report on their levels of pain as well as their moods.
They were then divided into a UV and non-UV group. All of the fibromyalgia patients received light treatments three times a week for a total of six weeks. Those in the UV group reported more improvements compared to those in the non-UV group.
In a previous study, participants who received UV light treatments reported improvement in their arthritis and back pain.
Those in the UV group reported more improvements compared to those in the non-UV group.
While the Wake Forest study suggests tanning may benefit certain people, dermatologists warn about the dangers of tanning beds.
In July, the World Health Organization declared UV radiation from tanning bed one of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation. In 1994, a Swedish study found women between 18 and 30 years old who visited tanning salons 10 times or more a year were seven-times more likely to develop melanoma.
A study conducted at Dartmouth Medical School found that tanning bed users had 2.5-times the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5-times the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.