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Fibromyalgia in Children and Teens

(continued)

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Children and Teens continued...

Fibromyalgia can be so debilitating that it causes many kids with the condition to miss school an average of three days each month. Having fibromyalgia can also be socially isolating. Teens with fibromyalgia can have trouble making friends and may feel like they're unpopular because of their condition.

If a doctor suspects fibromyalgia in a child, there is a test that may help diagnose the condition. The test -- called FM/a -- identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. Because the test is new, insurance may not cover it. Ask your doctor if the FM/a test is right for your child. 

Treating Fibromyalgia in Teens and Children

A team of specialists works together to treat fibromyalgia in children and teens. This team can include a:

  • Pediatric rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating children with arthritis and other rheumatologic diseases)
  • Psychologist
  • Physical therapist

Though there currently is no cure for fibromyalgia in children (or adults), several good treatments are available to help manage its symptoms, including:

Coping strategies. One of the most effective ways to treat fibromyalgia in teens and children is by using coping strategies to manage the pain. A technique called cognitive behavioral therapy helps children with fibromyalgia learn what triggers their pain and how to deal with it. It's very helpful for improving kids' ability to function, and relieving their depression. Other behavior-based approaches to treating fibromyalgia include muscle relaxation and stress-relieving techniques (such as deep breathing or meditation).

Medication. Medications may be used to treat adults with fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists may try some of these same medicines in children. However, the safety and effectiveness of fibromyalgia drugs isn't as well studied in children as in adults.

Exercise. Exercise is an important part of fibromyalgia treatment. Children with fibromyalgia who stay active tend to have less intense pain and less depression. A physical therapist can show kids the best exercises for fibromyalgia and can teach them how to ease into an exercise program gradually so they don't get injured.

Physical therapy. Physical therapy and massage can ease some of the muscle soreness that children with fibromyalgia experience.

For teens and children who are struggling with fibromyalgia, these treatments can bring help and hope. Getting enough rest and exercise, eating healthy foods, and relieving stress can help control fibromyalgia so that kids with the condition can stay symptom-free over the long term.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on December 14, 2012
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