What is Fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia is a common and complex syndrome that affects people physically, mentally, and socially. This syndrome affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. and 3-6 % of the world population. Fibromyalgia is most prevalent in women, but can affect anyone.

Fibromyalgia Characteristics:

Chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and often psychological distress.

Causes of fibromyalgia:

There is currently no identifiable cause of this syndrome; however, it is most likely attributed to a variety of factors working together.
• Genetics – Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that make you more susceptible to developing this disorder.
• Infections – Some illnesses appear to trigger or activate fibromyalgia.
• Physical or emotional trauma – Post traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia.
• Rheumatic disease/Autoimmune – Patients with rheumatic disease or autoimmune disorder( i.e. rheumatoid arthritis or lupus) are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

Diagnosis:

Currently there are no laboratory tests available for the diagnosing of fibromyalgia and doctors rely on patient histories, self reported symptoms, and a detailed physical examination.
Diagnostic criteria includes: widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum of three months as well as tenderness/pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender points when pressure is applied.

Treatment Options:

There is no cure and treatment aims to relieve symptoms and improve function.

1. Prescription Medications – used to reduce pain and improve sleep.
2. Alternative therapies – Examples include massage, myofascial release, acupuncture, chiropractic’s, herbal supplements, and yoga.
3. Lifestyle Modifications – Rest, pacing activities, stress reduction, practicing relaxation, and improving nutrition to minimize symptoms and improve quality of life.

For more information, please visit the National Fibromyalgia Association at fmaware.org