Fibromyalgia misconceptions: Interview with a Mayo Clinic expert

photo of Connie Ludtke, R.N.

Connie Ludtke, R.N.

by Mayo Clinic Staff

Get the facts about these common fibromyalgia myths. Learning all you can about fibromyalgia is the first step toward gaining control of your symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is a widely misunderstood condition that causes widespread pain and fatigue. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and are trying to learn all you can about the condition, you may come across some myths and misconceptions about fibromyalgia.

In this interview, Connie Luedtke, R.N., the nursing supervisor of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., answers questions about some of the most common misconceptions about fibromyalgia.

What is the most common misconception about fibromyalgia?

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The top misconception is that people think fibromyalgia isn’t a real medical problem or that it is “all in your head.” It’s sometimes thought of as a “garbage-can diagnosis” — if doctors can’t find anything else wrong with you, they say you have fibromyalgia. Being diagnosed with fibromyalgia does require that you meet specific criteria, including painful tender points above and below the waist on both sides of the body.

There’s a lot that’s unknown about fibromyalgia, but researchers have learned more about it in just the past few years. In people who have fibromyalgia, the brain and spinal cord process pain signals differently; they react more strongly to touch and pressure, with a heightened sensitivity to pain. It is a real physiological and neurochemical problem.

Click here to read the rest of this article on fibromyalgia misconceptions from the Mayo Clinic.

Trends in Tuberculosis – United States

Tuberculosis
X-ray of Patient with Tuberculosis

This report summarizes provisional 2010 data from the National TB Surveillance System and describes trends since 1993.

Despite an average decline in TB rates of 3.8% per year during 2000–2008, a record decline of 11.4% in 2009 (2), and the 2010 decline of 3.9%, the national goal of TB elimination (defined as <0.1 case per 100,000 population) by 2010 was not met (3).

Although TB cases and rates decreased among foreign-born and U.S.-born persons, foreign-born persons and racial/ethnic minorities were affected disproportionately by TB in the United States.

In 2010, the TB rate among foreign-born persons in the United States was 11 times greater than among U.S.-born persons. TB rates among Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks, and Asians were seven, eight, and 25 times greater, respectively, than among non-Hispanic whites. Among U.S.-born racial and ethnic groups, the greatest racial disparity in TB rates was for non-Hispanic blacks, whose rate was seven times greater than the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

Progress toward TB elimination in the United States will require ongoing surveillance and improved TB control and prevention activities to address persistent disparities between U.S.-born and foreign-born persons and between whites and minorities.

Click here to read the complete article. Trends in Tuberculosis

Allegra® antihistamine for allergy is now available without a prescription

The FDA approved over-the-counter sale of Allegra® (fexofenadine).
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This second generation antihistamine is projected to be available in pharmacies on March 4th, 2011 according to Sanofi-aventis, the manufacturer of Allegra®.
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The following Allegra® products will be available for over-the-counter sale:
  • Allegra® 24-hour and 12-hour tablets for adults and children 12 and older
  • Children’s Allegra® 12-hour tablets for children ages 6 years and older
  • Allegra® Liquid for children ages 2 years and older
  • Children’s Allegra® 12-hour ODT for children ages 6 years and older
  • Allegra-D® 24-hour and 12-hour allergy and congestion extended release tablets for adults and children 12 years and older
Currently, there are two other second generation antihistamines available over-the-counter, loratadine and cetirazine.
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When compared to the first generation antihistamines, specifically diphenhydramine, the current over-the-counter second generation antihistamines have minimal sedative and anticholinergic side effects.  This holds true for Allegra® as well.

Sleeping positions that reduce back pain!

By Mayo Clinic staff

Photo of woman sleeping on her side

Sleeping on your side

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By making simple changes in your sleeping position, you can take strain off your back. If you sleep on your side, draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and put a pillow between your legs. Use a full-length body pillow if you prefer.

This position may be particularly helpful if you have osteoarthritis in the spine, spinal stenosis — a narrowing in the spine — or hip pain.

Photo of woman sleeping on her back

Sleeping on your back

If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. You might try a small, rolled towel under the small of your back for additional support. Support your neck with a pillow.

This position may be helpful if you have low back pain.

Photo of woman sleeping on her abdomen

Sleeping on your abdomen

Sleeping on your abdomen can be hard on your back. If you can’t sleep any other way, reduce the strain on your back by placing a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Use a pillow under your head if it doesn’t place too much strain on your back. If it does cause strain, try sleeping without a pillow under your head.

This position may be helpful if you have degenerative disease or a herniated disk in the central portion of your spine.

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Did I have a mole a wart or skin cancer?

Moles and basal cell lesions can be hard to differentiate
Moles and basal cell lesions can be hard to differentiate

A little over a year ago I noticed what looked like a small pimple or possibly an infected hair follicle on my upper lip. I squeezed a little exudate out of it and cleaned it with alcohol and applied an antibiotic ointment, thinking that it would be gone in three or four days. It didn’t go away as quickly as things like that usually do. It grew fairly rapidly. It started to look like a pale-colored mole about 5 mm — less than a quarter of an inch — across. I tried to remove it a couple of times; once by using an over the counter wart-freezing spray and later a salicylic acid liquid-bandage type of product. Both times it got small enough that I thought it was about gone, but then it came right back to its original size in a few days.

While I was at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Charlotte for an annual physical, I asked Dr. Patel to take a look at the sore on my lip. She did and said she wasn’t sure what it was but that she would schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.  A few days later the dermatologist said that it would need to be removed just to be safe and made an appointment with the minor surgery department for me to have it taken care of the following Monday.

The surgeon looked at the sore on my lip in rapt attention, as if he were studying something for a final exam — like he was trying to memorize every detail. He was so focused on it that it made me feel uncomfortable. He finally looked up and said, “Yep, we need to take that out.”

I was glad that it was going to be taken care of. Still thinking that it might be a mole or some sort of persistent wart, I asked him if he had a diagnosis. Without skipping a beat of any kind he said, “You have a basal cell carcinoma. I’ll send a specimen to the lab to make sure — after we cut it out.”

I’ve had a mustache for over 40 years, so my image in the mirror this morning doesn’t look quite right without it. The bandage feels like it covers my whole face. The stitches are the type that will dissolve and it hurts a little, but I am more than glad to have this thing over and done with.

In retrospect, I was more concerned about my slightly elevated cholesterol, than I was about that thing on my lip. Now that I have proven that I can make cancer, I’ll be a little more careful about pooh-poohing any little lumps or bumps that might pop up in the future.

Thank God for annual checkups and the Veterans Administration.