Definition

Fibromyalgia is a complex, chronic, and disabling disorder. It causes widespread pain. It also causes poor sleep and fatigue.

Fibromyalgia Trigger Points

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Causes

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. It may be related to abnormal processing of pain.

Conditions that are commonly associated with fibromyalgia include:

    
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Chronic headache, such as tension headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Female urethral syndrome (irritable bladder)
  • Autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Risk Factors

    Fibromyalgia is more common in women, and in people aged 20-60 years old. Physical or mental stress may also increase your chance of getting fibromyalgia.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms and severity of fibromyalgia are different for everyone.

    Fibromyalgia may cause:

        
  • Generalized pain and tenderness that can:    
  • Be moderate to severe
  • Feel stabbing, shooting, achy, or throbbing
  • Be widespread and chronic
  • Be associated with muscle twitching
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Poor sleep
  • Reduced physical endurance
  • Problems with concentration, thought, or memory
  • Sensitivity to noises, light, or odors
  • Factors that may trigger or worsen symptoms include:

        
  • Physical injury
  • Weather changes, especially cold, damp weather
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Overexertion
  • Medical illness
  • Surgery
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is usually based on reported symptoms and tenderness in specific areas of the body during the physical exam.

    Fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed when pain or tenderness is present in more than 7 locations and consistent for more than 3 months.

    Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to relieve or control the symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

    Therapy Programs

        
  • Physical therapy
  • Heated pool treatments
  • Alternative treatments, such as massage, acupuncture, relaxation training, trigger point therapy, biofeedback, and yoga
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Lifestyle Changes

    Your doctor may also recommend that you make lifestyle changes, such as:

        
  • Eat a healthy diet .
  • Learn to cope with physical and mental stress.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Participate in a regular exercise program that includes aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Gentle exercises that may not strain painful areas include walking, biking, and swimming. Talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to start exercising.
  • Medications

    Your doctor may recommend the following to help manage symptoms:

        
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Sedatives
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Opioids—if not relieved by other treatments
  • Prevention

    There are no current guidelines to prevent fibromyalgia.