Fibromyalgia: Key Q & A

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome, predominantly affecting women, in which non-painful stimuli are translated by the central nervous system into pain. It is a disorder of muscles.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are not known. However, there are many theories, including abnormalities in brain chemicals, infections, trauma, genetics, hormones and sleep disturbances. It is generally believed not to be an autoimmune disorder (condition in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks health tissues). Fibromyalgia cannot be identified through laboratory tests. The American College of Rheumatology has established two criteria for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia: widespread pain and the presence of 11 of 18 specified tender points (known as trigger points).

Can it be prevented or cured?

There is no known cure or prevention method for fibromyalgia, but its symptoms can be treated.

What are some treatments for fibromyalgia?

Medications such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants and sometimes analgesics (painkillers) can help with pain management of fibromyalgia. Proper nutrition, exercise and sleeping habits also play important roles in treatment.

A wide range of complementary treatments (such as massage, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, biofeedback and hypnosis) may also help. If you have trouble coping with fibromyalgia, you may find help through psychological counseling and community support groups.

What are the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia can show itself in several different and frustrating ways. The most common of these include:

  • Multiple tender points (trigger points)
  • Chronic, widespread pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Migraines and other headaches
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Increased sensitivity to light, odors etc.
  • Mood disturbances
  • Difficulty in sustaining repetitive motor tasks

 

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