What to do When your Teenager is Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia in teens

Kids and teens get sick just like we do, and usually, it’s very easy to find out why they got sick.  It can be something as simple as a sore throat or an infection, which are easy to diagnose and treat.

However, what many people don’t realize is that fibromyalgia can develop in children and teens especially as well.  Common symptoms of fibromyalgia include excessive tiredness and fatigue, aching throughout the body and especially in the muscles and the joints, and difficulty sleeping.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

It’s essential that if your teen is feeling the symptoms of fibromyalgia that you consult with your doctor.  The problem is that not very many doctors understand what fibromyalgia is or how to treat it very well.

You may have to expand your search to find a doctor or medical professional who understands fibromyalgia and hopefully has experience diagnosing and treating it in the past.  Fortunately, it is much easier to find a doctor who understands fibromyalgia now than it was before.

Fibromyalgia is also harder to find in children because it is much more common in adults.  The age of 18 is usually the youngest age that a person can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, but unfortunately, that figure is slipping away, as now as much as five percent of teenagers in the United States are estimated to either display some symptoms of fibromyalgia or be diagnosed with it all together.  So, let’s say that you have a teenager who is displaying strong symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Maybe your teenager has even been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  So the next question is, what causes fibromyalgia in teens, and what can you do about it?  Fortunately, there is much that you can do.

What causes Fibromyalgia in Teens?

Well, we don’t exactly know what causes fibromyalgia in adults, so as you might guess, we also don’t exactly know what causes fibromyalgia in teens, either. Although no specific gene has been identified yet, it has been discovered that fibromyalgia does run in the family, meaning that a person who has a related family member who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia is more likely to be diagnosed with it themselves over a person who has no family history of diagnosed fibromyalgia.

So if your teen has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, ask yourself if anyone else in the family has.  Not just your or our spouse or your other children, but anyone in your extended family. If so, then it’s understandable for why your teen has developed fibromyalgia (though it’s still rare to at such a young age), but if your family has no history of fibromyalgia, then it’s definitely a very rare occurrence that your teen has been diagnosed.

We also know that more girls than boys have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the past, so a teenage girl being diagnosed with fibromyalgia is more likely than a teenage boy as well.

The Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Teens

The symptoms of fibromyalgia in teens are largely the same as in adults. The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, constant headaches, dizziness, constant stomach aches, soreness, achiness and pain throughout the body especially in the muscles and joints, and more difficulty remembering things.

As with adults, fibromyalgia is difficult in teens. When a teenager is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, they will have immense difficulty sleeping at night due to the pain.  When they can’t sleep, they will only feel more tired and fatigued during the day, which only makes the pain worse.  So in this sense, the symptoms of fibromyalgia essentially work with one another.

It’s very important that you find treatment for your teen if they are diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Many teens will miss many days at school, which can affect their grades and their entire future (maybe their dream is to get into a college that holds high standards, but they miss an important lecture and fail the next test, leading to a B in the class when they could have had an A that the college would have accepted).

And if other teens in the school find out that your teen has fibromyalgia, your teen may rapidly become unpopular and become socially isolated and may lose friends.  So not only does fibromyalgia affect a teen medically, it also affects their work/school performance and their friends.

Treating Fibromyalgia

There are many different people who you can consult with if your teen is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  You should consult a doctor who has experience and knowledge in the area of fibromyalgia, a psychologist, and a physical therapist.

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia for anybody, unfortunately.  However, there are still many treatments that you can have your teen use to lessen the pain and symptoms as much as possible. First of all, your teen will need to learn how to cope with the pain.

You can try using cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps teens relieve their depression or anxiety they feel because of the pain.  You should also try muscle relaxation techniques, and breathe deeply to get the stress out for the time being.

You can also try using pain reliever medications to lessen the pain, but you should only use ones that are prescribed to you by your doctor and that don’t have any dangerous side effects.  You should also keep in mind that there are very few studies regarding medication and fibromyalgia in teens, so use caution.

Good exercise and physical therapy would never hurt either. Getting enough exercise is essential to anyone who is dealing with fibromyalgia. Just set aside anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour each day of exercise, and you will find less pain and less depression. The good thing about physical therapy is that the therapist can show your teen the best exercises to use in regard to fibromyalgia, and how often to use them, why they should be used, etc.