Illness spotlight – Fibromyalgia



Fibromyalgia seems to be talked about more and more lately. It’s a disease that I don’t know much so decided to look into it.  I have some questions and hopefully can come up with some answers.  Here is a few of the questions.  What is Fibromyalgia and how does it affect people?  What triggers it? Who is more likely to get Fibromyalgia and is there a treatment or cure for it?

What is Fibromyalgia?

There seems to be a lot of intense answers to this questions but here is a simple answer that I found.  Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas. It is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Its characteristics include widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue, as well as other symptoms. Some say that it is a disease and others say it is a syndrome.  A syndrome is a multitude of symptoms that occur together without an identifiable causes. When they exist together, they imply the presence of a specific disease or a greater chance of developing the disease  A disease is a health condition that has a clearly defined reason behind it.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Decreased pain threshold or tender points
  • Incapacitating fatigue
  • Widespread pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”)

Anyone of these symptoms alone does not mean that person has fibromyalgia. A person may have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions. Such conditions can include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.

What causes Fibromyalgia?

The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. There may be a number of factors involved. Fibromyalgia has been linked to:

  • Stressful or traumatic events, such as car accidents
  • Repetitive injuries
  • Illness
  • Certain diseases.

Fibromyalgia can also occur on its own.Some scientists think that a gene or genes might be involved in fibromyalgia. The genes could make a person react strongly to things that other people would not find painful.


What are the triggers?

  1. Weather changes
  2. exertion
  3. Stress
  4. Illness or Injury
  5. Hormonal changes
  6. Temperature change
  7. Lack of sleep or disruption of sleep
  8. Treatment changes
  9. Traveling
  10. Individual sensitivities

A fibromyalgia flare (or flare-up) is a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms. Worsening pain and fatigue are generally the first two symptoms noticed in a fibro-flare. But other symptoms like poor sleep, increased cognitive dysfunction and digestive disturbances are often experienced as well.

What are tender points?

That’s why doctors often check for certain tender points on the body when it comes to diagnosing fibromyalgia. These 18 points (9 pairs) tend to be painful when pressed, and may spread pain to other body parts.

  1. Back of neck
  2. Elbow
  3. Front of neck
  4. Hips
  5. Lower back
  6. Knees
  7. Upper back
  8. Shoulders
  9. Chest

American College of Rheumatology guidelines suggest that people with fibromyalgia have pain in at least 11 of these tender points when a doctor applies a certain amount of pressure. Tender points are often not deep areas of pain. Instead, they are superficial areas seemingly under the surface of the skin,  such as the area over the elbow or shoulder.

Who is more likely to get Fibromyalgia, men or women?

Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million  18 or older. Between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age.

Types of medicines used to treat Fibromyalgia.

  1. Antidepressants
  2. Anticonvulsants
  3. Pain medication
  4. Sleep aid

Today doctors have better insight into fibromyalgia, and are using many types of medications to treat its symptoms. Antidepressants and  anticonvulsants, narcolepsy drugs, pain relievers, sleep aid — when used to treat fibromyalgia symptoms, these medications alter brain chemistry to help reduce pain, improve sleep, and ease anxiety or depression.

There are other ways to help you deal with having Fibromyalgia.  Other treatments are self-care, relaxation therapies, talk therapy, and stress reduction may help control symptoms. And seeing the right doctors helps to make sure you get the right care.

More Information on Fibromyalgia

For more information about fibromyalgia, call at 800-994-9662 (TDD: 888-220-5446) or contact the following organizations:

Arthritis Foundation
Phone: 800-283-7800

National Fibromyalgia Association
Phone: 714-921-0150

National Fibromyalgia Partnership, Inc.
Phone: 866-725-4404

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Phone: 877-226-426


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