Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.
Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
The word “fibromyalgia” comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek ones for muscle (myo) and pain (algia).
Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress.
In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:
Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
Other problems. Many people who have fibromyalgia also may experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown, but there are probably a number of factors involved.
Many people associate the development 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. For others, fibromyalgia seems to occur spontaneously.
Most laboratory tests are not very useful by themselves for diagnosing fibromyalgia.
There is ablood test — called FM/a — that identifies markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia.
One study showed the test can also help distinguish fibromyalgia from other conditions that can have similar symptoms, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?
Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat. Not all doctors are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment, so it is important to find a doctor who is.
Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists (doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues) can treat fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia medications treat symptoms, such as the deep muscle pain, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression.
Cymbalta helps people manage the unique symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Doctors think Lyrica may help fibromyalgia by calming overly excited nerves that cause pain.
Doctors aren’t exactly sure how Savella helps fibromyalgia but it’s been shown to relieve pain and improve physical function.
Physical therapy is often recommended to help ease fibromyalgia pain and teach self-management skills.
You’ve probably heard that medical marijuana can help with pain.