Xlear Nasal Spray
Stardocs Success Stories

Fibromyalgia Facts

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, the disease can often be managed.

Written by The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. The disease is fairly common, affecting approximately 2 percent of the US population (3.7 million Americans). For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.

Although its symptoms are similar to other joint diseases, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia is actually a form of soft tissue or muscular rheumatism that causes pain in the muscles and soft tissues. Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in women of childbearing age.

Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.

Whether you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or suffer from its symptoms, or have a family member or friend with the disorder, this section is designed to provide you with a better understanding of this chronic pain disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.

Fibromyalgia is one of several pain syndromes included in the classification of musculoskeletal pain syndrome (MSPS), or pain amplification syndrome.

What causes or triggers fibromyalgia?

Although the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, researchers believe there may be a link with sleep disturbance, psychological stress, or immune, endocrine, or biochemical abnormalities. Fibromyalgia mainly affects the muscles and the points at which the muscles attach to the bone (at the ligaments and tendons).

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Pain is the most common and chronic symptom of fibromyalgia. Pain may begin in one area of the body, such as the neck and shoulders, but eventually the entire body may become affected. The pain ranges from mild to severe and may be described as burning, soreness, stiffness, aching, or gnawing pain. Fibromyalgia usually is associated with characteristic tender spots of pain in the muscles. The following are other common symptoms of fibromyalgia. However each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • moderate to severe fatigue
  • decreased exercise endurance
  • sleep problems at night
  • depressed mood
  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • abdominal pain and bloating
  • diarrhea, alternated with constipation
  • urinary urgency

The symptoms of fibromyalgia may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

There are no laboratory tests that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Instead, diagnosis is usually based on reported symptoms.

Treatment for fibromyalgia:

Specific treatment for fibromyalgia will be determined by your physician based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
  • Expectation for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, the disease can often be successfully managed with proper treatment, as fibromyalgia does not cause damage to tissues. Treatment may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (to relieve pain and improve sleep)
  • Exercise and physical therapy (to stretch muscles and improve cardiovascular fitness)
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Heat treatments
  • Occasional cold applications
  • Massage
Derived from The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and Arthritis Foundation
Article Reviewed: July 5, 2012
Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine

Related Articles
Anyone can heal, if they can put aside all the archaic notions of pain.
Article Reviewed: November 18, 2013
Americans often aren’t right in the head about mental illness, and the consequences are many
Article Reviewed: August 8, 2013
Some subtle changes in behavior might indicate a serious addiction
Article Reviewed: May 29, 2013
Forefoot, Midfoot or Heel When Running
Article Reviewed: June 9, 2013