Fibromyalgia

What is fibromyalgia?

It is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. Those who suffer from this disorder have “tender points” on the body. These points typically are places on the

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Hips
  • Arms
  • Legs

Tender points hurt when pressure is put on them.

Symptoms

Some other symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”)
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Temperature sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights

Causes

There are no known causes of fibromyalgia, but it may be related to injury, emotional distress, or viruses that alter the way the brain processes pain. It is most common in middle-aged women but anyone can develop it. Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases are at an increased risk to develop fibromyalgia.

Diagnosis

Health care providers diagnose fibromyalgia by examining the patient, evaluating their symptoms, and ruling out all other conditions since there are no diagnostic tests.

Treatment

There is no cure for fibromyalgia but certain medications can help with symptoms. Making lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well may also help decrease discomfort.

There are several drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat fibromyalgia, but medication is only one part of the normal medical treatment. Nondrug approaches like exercise and good sleeping habits can help manage symptoms. Repeatedly, research has shown that regular exercise is an extremely effective treatment for fibromyalgia. If an individual’s fibromyalgia causes them too much pain or fatigue to do vigorous exercise, they should begin with walking or other gentle exercises. 

Last reviewed: 
January 2018

Interested in using our health content?