Fibromyalgia – Disorder set apart by Widespread Pain

What is Fibromyalgia

The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin phrase for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disorder set apart by widespread pain, diffuse tenderness, and a number of other symptoms. People with fibromyalgia have “Tender Points” on the body. Tender Points are particular places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness. Although fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition, in fact, it is not a variety of arthritis.

Fibromyalgia affects nearly 1 in 20 people worldwide; it is more common in women than men. In most cases, fibromyalgia develops between 30 and 60 years of age, but it can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

The causes of fibromyalgia are unidentified as yet, but there are a number of factors suspected to be involved. Many people correlate the progression of fibromyalgia with a physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic event, such as an automobile accident. Some connect it to repetitive injuries. Others link it to an illness. In other cases, it is thought that symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no particular triggering event.

Researchers believe that people with fibromyalgia may have a gene or genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful.  Recurring nerve stimulation causes the brains of fibromyalgia patients to transform. This transformation involves an unusual increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.

Location of Tender Points in Fibromyalgia

American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has designated 18 points on the body as possible tender points. Few points are located at following  places:

  • Back of the head
  • Between shoulder blades
  • Top of shoulders
  • Front sides of neck
  • Upper chest
  • Outer elbows
  • Upper hips
  • Sides of hips
  • Inner knees

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person’s ability to carry on daily activities. The pain linked with fibromyalgia often is described as a widespread constant monotonous pain, typically arising from muscles. Pain is considered widespread when it affects all four quadrants of the body, meaning it must be felt on both the left and right sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. Other symptoms are as follows:-

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”)

Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia

Symptoms of fibromyalgia have common characteristics with those of many other conditions, therefore, doctors often rule out other potential causes of these symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. There are currently no diagnostic laboratory tests for fibromyalgia; standard laboratory tests fail to reveal a physiologic reason for pain. Because there is no generally accepted, objective test for fibromyalgia, some doctors unfortunately may conclude a patient’s pain is not real, or they may tell the patient there is little they can do.

Treatment of Fibromyalgia

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medicine can help you manage your symptoms. Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Doctors generally prescribe medications aimed at reducing pain and daytime fatigue and improving sleep.  Only three medications, duloxetine, milnacipran, and pregabalin are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Treatment tends to be a combination of:

  • Medicines. Mostly antidepressants and painkillers
  • Therapies. Counseling and Relaxation Therpies
  • Lifestyle changes. Better sleeping habits and Stress reduction

Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists can treat fibromyalgia. Non drug therapies are used to complement to your medication.

  • Consider trying hands-on approaches (massage)
  • Movement therapies (Tai Chi)
  • Trigger point treatments (stretching sore muscles with heat)
  • Nutritional supplements such as magnesium with malic acid and various anti-oxidants to protect your tissues.

Self Help

There are many strategies you can use to ease your fibromyalgia symptoms,

  • Managing muscle tension
  • Reducing painful knots in your muscles (i.e., myofascial trigger points)
  • Conserving energy
  • Improving sleep.
  • Exercise regularily
  • Reduce Stress in life


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