Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia facts

  • Fibromyalgia is a central pain syndrome characterized by chronic pain, fatigue, and tenderness to touch.
  • Fibromyalgia is the most common cause of chronic, widespread pain in the United States.
  • Fibromyalgia affects 2%-4% of the population, mostly women.
  • Exercise and getting enough sleep are very important in the management of fibromyalgia. Taking medications can help relieve the pain.
  • There is no test to detect fibromyalgia. When a physician suspects fibromyalgia, sometimes tests are necessary to exclude other medical conditions.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that affects 4% of the population of the United States. Fibromyalgia commonly affects the muscles and ligaments and usually has been present for years when a physician diagnoses the condition. Fibromyalgia was formerly known as fibrositis.

What causes fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia has been shown to be genetic. It 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 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 3/18/2014

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Fibromyalgia pain

Fibromyalgia Symptoms and Signs

The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain that is believed to derive from an increased sensitivity to pain stimuli. The pain can be brought on by different situations, including noises, weather changes, or stress, but it may also occur without any relation to external events.

Other common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include fatigue, sleep disturbances, migraine, numbness or tingling in various body parts, and irritable bladder. Irritable bladder can cause frequent urination and discomfort during urination (dysuria).