Fibromyalgia in Children
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia in children is becoming more evident. For many years, fibromyalgia was considered an adult illness.
Studies in the early 1990’s revealed children are affected by fibromyalgia. Many children have been wrongly diagnosed with arthritis or ‘growing’ pains.
Typically fibromyalgia in children occurs around puberty.
Children with a family history of fibromyalgia, especially girls, are more prone to have the illness. If your child complains of joint or muscle pain, fatigue or any of the other symptoms of fibro, please be sure to have them checked out by your doctor.
Far too often we think the child is faking the pain to get off school or to avoid exercise. We have to pay particular attention to their discomfort without making it too obvious! Most children will play act at some time to avoid situations, but we should quietly observe them see if their pain is real.
One thing that will be evident to you as a parent is whether the child’s sleep is affected. Fibromyalgia in children is the same as in adults. Your child’s sleep will be disturbed, unusual waking and the inability to get back to sleep. When they get up in the morning, they may complain of being fatigued.
Chronic fatigue syndrome in children is also possible. Your child could have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The two illnesses often go together.
Fibromyalgia in children is challenging to diagnose, as it is with adults. No blood test will diagnose fibromyalgia. Paying close attention to your child’s symptoms and keeping a journal will help your doctor diagnose the problem.
“Growing pains” are a myth. Growing does not hurt! If your little one is complaining of pain, please take it seriously. I know firsthand the pain of fibromyalgia, and it is no joke! Children with fibromyalgia need special care and understanding. They need the full backing of their parents. Heck, if their parents don’t believe them then the poor mites don’t stand a chance in coping with this dreadful illness alone!
Diagnosing Fibromyalgia in Children
Fibromyalgia in children often starts with a virus of some sort like the flu.
You may notice that they don’t appear to recover from it fully. The pain and flu-like symptoms linger.
Some of the things they may complain about, and you should watch out for are:
- Pain, it can be an ache, deep burning pain, sharp shooting pain or throbbing pain.
- Fatigue – they wake up tired. They may also have difficulty falling asleep at night, or they awake in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep.
- Leg jerking, kicking or twitching while sleeping.
- Waking up stiff and sore. Movements slow and made with extreme effort.
- Inability to sit still in class. Fidgeting and squirming to get comfy. Sometimes labeled with ADD when it is in fact fibromyalgia pain causing the issue.
- Joint hypermobility
- Pain in fibromyalgia tender points
- Difficulty concentrating in class or at home. Fibromyalgia causes cognitive problems.
- Eye prescription changes from day to day
Fibromyalgia in Children Tips
Relieve Child Pain Coping with fibromyalgia for adults is severe enough, for a child with fibro it is even more so. She may be unable to run, play and do activities children of her age participate in. She will start to feel left out and isolated. It is essential that she is actively involved as much as possible in regular routines.
Children can be cruel, and if her school friends do not understand her limitations, it may be necessary to have a word with your child’s teacher. Classmates need to understand what is going on so they can help support your child when she is at school.
Your child will have good days and sick days. Hopefully, the good days will far outweigh the bad ones. Allow her to do what she feels comfortable with and no more. Over-doing things on good days can lead to more bad days with a fibro flare. It is when the body goes into overdrive, and the symptoms and pain are made a lot worse.
Doctors may prescribe a mild muscle relaxant and Benadryl to help your child sleep at night. It is also the useful practice to get your child into a set routine, keep to the same bedtime, etc. It helps to regulate the child’s body and prepare her for sleep. A proper healthy diet is recommended to give her shape the right fuel to fight off illness.
Many parents have had good results from giving their child Guaifenesin or guaifenesin. It is a natural product with virtually no side effects.
Don’t baby your child. We all want to protect our children, but they need to find a way of coping with their fibromyalgia. Allow them to do whatever they feel capable of. They know best!
The good news is fibromyalgia in children is not necessarily a life-long sentence as it is for most adults. Evidence shows that as many as 70% of children are fibro-free in less than three years of being diagnosed.