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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue (feeling tired). People with fibromyalgia have "tender points" on the body. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them.

Fibromyalgia affects as many as 1 in 50 Americans. Most people with fibromyalgia are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age.

Symptoms

In addition to pain and fatigue, people who have fibromyalgia may experience

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog").

Causes

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 such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis).

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.

Treatment

Fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It's important to find a doctor who is familiar with the disorder and its treatment. Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists can treat fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues.

Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers. A pain or rheumatology clinic can be a good place to get treatment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved any medicines to treat fibromyalgia. Doctors treat fibromyalgia with medicines approved for other purposes. Pain medicines and antidepressants are often used in treatment.

What Can I Do to Try to Feel Better?

There are many things you can do to feel better, including:

  • Taking medicines as prescribed
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising
  • Eating well
  • Making work changes if necessary.

 

Reference:

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, USA.