Fibromyalgia is often listed by doctors and patients alike as one of the most confusing and hard-to-treat medical issues. It's hard-to-treat simply because there are so many variables and so many unknowns to the disease.
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is hard to identity. And there’s even debate in the medical community on how to classify it.
Some doctors and specialists say it’s a syndrome, others a disease and still others a disorder or a condition.
A Chronic Condition
In case you’ve never heard of it, fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by widespread pain in the muscles, accompanying fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas throughout the body.
The symptoms and degree of pain vary greatly for people suffering from fibromyalgia. And there is also a world of factors that can exacerbate the problem - like a bad night’s sleep, added stress and anxiety.
Scientists estimate that roughly 5 million Americans ages 18 and older are affected by fibromyalgia. But the disorder can also affect children as well.
Referred to occasionally as fibromyalgia syndrome, this variation of the condition is often classified by:
- Isolated tender or sore areas
- Poor sleep
- Other symptoms that interrupt a child’s life
Numerous studies have already been conducted on how mindfulness meditation can help adults suffering from fibromyalgia. And it’s recommended as a treatment for millions of patients.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program
But a new study decided to take a look and see if these same benefits could occur for children ages 10-18 who suffer from the condition.
Roughly 20 younger patients were enrolled in an MBRS program, or mindfulness-based stress reduction program, for eight weeks, which included daily practice and training.
Before and after the program, both the children and their parents were asked to fill out several questionnaires that are traditionally given to fibromyalgia patients, such as the:
- Functional Disability Inventory (FDI)
- Fibromyalgia/Symptom Impact Questionnaire-Revised (FIQR/SIQR)
- Multidimensional Anxiety Scale (MASC2)
- Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory
- Perceived Stress Scale
The patients were also interviewed after the program, to see if they felt if it was a success, and for input on the program’s content, structure and feasibility.
The results after the study were promising.
Both the child and parent scores on multiple questionnaires were significantly improved and stayed high after the one year mark – especially for kids who stuck with the practice a home after the program was over.
Patients who continually practiced for the full year saw a 44% improvement in symptoms, while patients who just attended the eight-week session saw a 26% improvement in their scores, which measured pain, stress and overall quality of life.
The interviews were promising as well, with both children and parents noting a positive impact of meditation on the activities of daily life, anxiety and overall pain management.
Now obviously a person who thinks that they may be suffering from fibromyalgia should see their physician first to be diagnosed.
But regardless of age and degree of symptoms, many people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia will be comforted to know that a treatment – and relief – is always at hand and within reach.
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.