Fibromyalgia

What is it? Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects about 5 million Americans. Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on a patient’s symptoms and physical exam. Patients experience pain and stiffness in the muscles, but there are no measurable findings on X-rays or lab tests. While fibromyalgia does not damage the joints or organs, the constant aches and fatigue can have a significant impact on daily life.

Statistics: Widespread chronic body pain for which no cause can be found is the major feature of fibromyalgia, a condition that affects an estimated 3.7 million people — mostly women — in the U.S.

Important Facts: The hallmark of fibromyalgia is muscle pain throughout the body, typically accompanied by fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety or depression, and specific tender points

Women between the ages of 25 and 60 have the highest risk of developing fibromyalgia. Doctors aren’t sure why, but women are 10 times more likely to have the condition than men. Some researchers believe genetics may play a role, but no specific genes have been identified.

Treatment Duration: Fibromyalgia was once the exclusive domain of rheumatologists. Today, the condition has captured the attention of a wide range of health care providers. Many people receive treatment through their primary care providers.

The goal of fibromyalgia treatment is to minimize pain, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders. Doctors may recommend medications that help ease your symptoms — ranging from familiar over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription drugs.

Do’s/Don’ts: Stress appears to be one of the most common triggers of fibromyalgia flare-ups. While it’s impossible to eliminate all stress from your life, you can try to reduce unnecessary stress. Determine which situations make you anxious — at home and at work — and find ways to make those situations less stressful. Experiment with yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. And allow yourself to skip nonessential activities that cause stress.

Psychological Issues Are Not Common Fibromyalgia Symptoms — Mood problems have traditionally been thought to be among the most common fibromyalgia symptoms. But now researchers are saying that psychological disturbances are actually found in only a small number of patients.

Fibromyalgia a ‘Real Disease,’ Study Shows — A new brain scan study concludes that fibromyalgia is related to abnormalities of blood flow in the brain.