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Disease: Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases

Disease Definition:

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition in which someone feels widespread pain in their muscles, ligaments and tendons, along with fatigue and multiple tender points, which are places on the body where slight pressure causes pain.


A person may have fibromyalgia in case they hurt all over, frequently feel exhausted and even after numerous tests nothing specifically wrong could be found with them.


Usually, the symptoms of fibromyalgia begin after a physical or emotional trauma; however, the trauma doesn’t appear to be a triggering event. The risk of fibromyalgia increases with age, and women are much more likely to develop this disorder than are men.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


Depending on the time of the day, physical activity, the weather and stress, the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia could vary.

Widespread pain and tender points:

The pain, in order to be considered widespread, has to occur on both sides of the body and above as well as below the waist. Usually, the pain that is associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache, arising from muscles.


When firm pressure is applied to the tender points, which are specific areas of the body, the person will feel additional pain. This is one of the characteristics of fibromyalgia.


The locations of some of those tender points are:


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


Sleep disturbances and fatigue:

Even though people with fibromyalgia seem to get plenty of sleep, they usually wake up tired. Experts believe that this happens because these people rarely reach the deep restorative stage of sleep. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome are some of the sleep disorders that have been linked to fibromyalgia.

Co-existing conditions:

Most people with fibromyalgia could also suffer from:


  • Lupus
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Endometriosis
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


Fibromyalgia is most likely caused due to a few factors working together; however, its exact cause is still not known. Some of these factors include:


Fibromyalgia could sometimes be triggered or aggravated by some illnesses.

Physical or emotional trauma:

Fibromyalgia could also be linked to some post-traumatic stress disorders.


There could be certain genetic mutations that might make a person more susceptible to developing the disorder, because this disorder tends to run in families.


Currently, there’s a theory about the pain associated with this disorder called central sensitization. It states that because of increased sensitivity in the brain of people with fibromyalgia to pain signals, they have a lower threshold for pain.


In people with fibromyalgia, it is believed that repeated nerve stimulation causes the brain to change. Usually, the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters) are abnormally increased by this change and it seems that the brain’s pain receptors develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning that they could overreact to pain signals.



In most cases, fibromyalgia doesn’t lead to other conditions or diseases and isn’t progressive. But it could cause depression, lack of sleep and pain. These are problems that could interfere with a person's ability to function at home or on the job, or even maintain close personal or family relationships. Yet another complication of the condition could be the frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition.


Usually, both self-care measures and medication is what the treatment of fibromyalgia includes. Improving the patient's general health and minimizing their symptoms will be the focus of the treatment.



In order to improve sleep and reduce the pain of fibromyalgia, the patient may be recommended medications, such as:


In order to help promote sleep, a person may be prescribed amitriptyline. In some people, fluoxetine in combination with amitriptyline is effective. In order to help ease the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia, someone may be recommended duloxetine. And in order to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia, the Food and Drug Administration has recently approved milnacipran .


Although acetaminophen could ease the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia, but its effectiveness varies. There’s a prescription pain medication called Tramadol that could be taken either with or without acetaminophen. In combination with other medications, the patient may be recommended NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including naproxen sodium , acetylsalicylic acid or ibuprofen. However, when taken by themselves, NSAIDs haven’t proved to be as effective in managing the pain of fibromyalgia.

Anti-seizure drugs:

In reducing certain types of pain, medications that are designed to treat epilepsy are usually useful. Although pregabalin is the first drug that is approved by the FDA to treat fibromyalgia, however, gabaperntin is also helpful in some cases in reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.





Therapy could be provided through individual counseling, classes, in addition to tapes, CDs or DVDs which could help a person manage their fibromyalgia. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims at strengthening someone's belief in his/her abilities and teaches methods for dealing with stressful situations.

Physical therapy:

In order to reduce pain and restore muscle balance, some specific exercises are available. Also, the application of hot or cold and stretching techniques could be of some help.


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