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Fibromyalgia facts

  • Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome characterized by chronic pain, fatigue, and tenderness to touch.
  • Fibromyalgia syndrome is the most common medical cause of chronic, widespread pain in the United States.
  • Fibromyalgia affects 2%-4% of people, mostly women.
  • Defining fibromyalgia symptoms and signs include
    • chronic pain, which may be in the muscles, joints, and/or bones,
    • fatigue,
    • unrefreshing sleep, and
    • tenderness throughout the body to light touch.
  • Those with fibromyalgia may also experience
  • Exercise and getting enough sleep are very important in the management of fibromyalgia. Taking medications can help relieve the pain.
  • The fact is there is no test to detect fibromyalgia. When a health care professional suspects fibromyalgia, sometimes tests are necessary to exclude other medical conditions.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic pain condition that affects 4% of people in the United States. The disorder commonly affects the muscles and ligaments and usually has been present for years when a health care professional diagnoses the condition. Fibromyalgia was formerly known as fibrositis.

What causes fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome has been shown to be genetic. The disorder frequently becomes evident after stressful events. The stressful events may be emotional (such as a traumatic life event), physical (such as a motor-vehicle accident), or medical (such as certain infections). The chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and other health conditions and autoimmune diseases can trigger the development of fibromyalgia.

The manner in which the brain and spinal cord process pain sensations is abnormal in fibromyalgia. The threshold at which stimuli cause pain or discomfort has been proven to be lower in fibromyalgia. The pain felt is more intense because the pain is amplified by the abnormalities in the central nervous system and in pain processing. Because of this, things that are not normally painful may be painful for someone with fibromyalgia. In addition, fibromyalgia causes the pain from any given cause to be worse. For example, a patient with fibromyalgia may find a massage painful instead of pleasant. In addition, back pain that someone without fibromyalgia experiences as moderate may be experienced as severe by someone with fibromyalgia, because the pain is amplified by abnormalities in pain processing by the central nervous system.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/27/2017


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