Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic
(long-term) pain and tenderness in the muscles and
bones, stiffness, fatigue, spasms, and severe sleep
WHERE ARE COMMON AREAS IN THE BODY THAT
PAIN OCCURS IN PEOPLE WITH FIBROMYALGIA?
People with fibromyalgia typically experience pain and
tenderness in a distinct pattern around the body. The
pain typically occurs in the neck, shoulders, lower back,
arms, hands, hips, knees, feet, legs, and thighs.
These areas are referred to as trigger points. The pain can also occur in the head
(headache), upper back, and belly. The pain usually develops slowly over a period of
weeks. The muscles at the bottom of the skull and near the shoulders are usually very
sensitive. These symptoms usually become worse when stress increases.
WHAT ARE OTHER SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is also associated with anxiety and fatigue. Some people with fibromyalgia
also have difficulty pooping. These symptoms usually become worse when stress
WHAT CAUSES FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia often occurs during periods of stress. However, the
exact cause of fibromyalgia is unclear. In fact, fibromyalgia is a
controversial diagnosis because there are many doctors who are
convinced that it has a biological cause and other doctors who are
convinced that it has a psychological cause.
Thus, there is some controversy over whether fibromyalgia is a
legitimate medical diagnosis. Another reason for this is controversy
is because there is no visible abnormality in the muscle tissue.
HOW IS FIBROMYALGIA DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on the patient's reported symptoms and a physical examination. In
1990, the American College of Rheumatology established criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. These
criteria include pain on both sides of the body that is above and below the waist, and pain in at least 11 of
18 specific parts of the body. Pain in the lower back, front part of the chest, cervical spine, or thoracic
spine must be present. The cervical spine is the part of the spine by the neck. The thoracic spine is the
part of the spine by the chest.
The doctor may send a patient with these symptoms for blood tests to rule out other problems such as
rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder in which the body's defense system attacks its own
tissues, causing inflammation of bone joints.
WHO GETS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is more common in females than males. It usually occurs in adults.
HOW IS FIBROMYALGIA TREATED?
At present, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. The goal of treatment is to provide temporary relief. This is
attempted by using physical therapy, deep tissue massage, and muscle relaxants (medications that relax
the muscles). In addition, medications that decrease inflammation, known as non-steroidal anti-
inflammatories (abbreviated as NSAIDs) are used as well. Oral pain medications are sometimes used.
Local anesthetics (medication that produces a loss of feeling) is sometimes injected into an affected body
part to reduce pain. Applying moist heat to affected body areas can be helpful for pain reduction.
Regular exercise is often used to maintain normal muscle flexibility and normal muscle tone (tension).
Ultrasound treatment, which involves using high-frequency sound waves to soft tissues, is another
treatment option that is sometimes used to relieve pain. Some physicians recommend acupuncture to
treat fibromyalgia. Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that inserts needles into a person's skin to
reduce pain and treat various disorders.
WHAT IS THE PROGNOSIS FOR PEOPLE WITH FIBROMYALGIA?
Most people with fibromyalgia make a full recovery, but in some cases the symptoms recur.
WHAT ELSE IS FIBROMYALGIA KNOWN AS?
Fibromyalgia is also known as fibromyalgia syndrome.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM, FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia comes from the Latin word "fibra" meaning "fiber," the Greek word "mys" meaning "muscle,"
and the Greek word "algos" meaning "pain." Put the words together and you have "muscle fiber pain.