Fibromyalgia, or FMS for fibromyalgia syndrome, is a chronic disease affecting between
2 and 4% of the general population. Fibromyalgia Symptoms cause neuromuscular pain and
general fatigue, and disturbs sleep and other daily activities. While the causes of FMS
are unknown, and no "cure" has been developed, there are many effective ways to
lessen the symptoms of FMS and help you to lead a more normal life.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms are also characterized by tender spots. Those tender spots are
felt particularly in the neck, spine, shoulders and hips. Fibromyalgia mainly affects
muscles and their attachment to bones. Although it may feel like an arthritic joint
disease, fibromyalgia is not a true form of arthritis and does not cause deformities of
the joints. Instead, fibromyalgia is a form of muscular rheumatism causing muscle pain.
There is no swelling involved and the joints are not often affected. But pain is felt in
the muscles, ligaments or tendons.
Originally termed fibrositis, describing inflammation of the muscles and tissues, it
was later found that inflammation is actually not part of the set of symptoms associated
with FMS. Fibromyalgia means, literally, pain in the muscles and soft tissues.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are better understood today than a few years ago. Also, the
interrelatedness of various factors are understood, and can be used to aid in treatment.
For example, researchers have been able to reproduce similar symptoms of fibromyalgia in
healthy people by disturbing their deep sleep schedule.
Women are diagnosed with fibromyalgia 20 times more often than are men. And women
between the ages of 20 and 60 are at greatest risk.
Causes of Fibromyalgia Symptoms
No one knows what causes fibromyalgia. But some think the start of the syndrome comes
after an illness like the flu or a traumatic event.
Diagnosing FMS usually focuses first on eliminating other conditions such as a thyroid
disturbance, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, or other similar conditions. Once
this is done, FMS is diagnosed by identifying certain "tender points" throughout
These are points that occur in an established pattern in patients with FMS, usually on
both sides of the body. Patients generally must have pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender
points to be diagnosed with FMS, though some physicians will diagnose FMS without these.
There are 18 tender points used in diagnosing FMS. These occur in pairs, clustering
around the neck, shoulders, shoulder blades, lower back, elbows and knees. Patients may
have other tender points, but only these 18 are used in diagnosis.
List of Fibromyalgia Symptoms
- Widespread pain for more than 3 months.
- Tenderness in the neck, shoulder, knee, elbow, or upper buttocks or thigh areas.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Tiredness in the morning or late in the day.
- Mood changes.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Headaches, sometimes migraines.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Numbness and tingling in hands, arms, feet, legs or face.
- Abdominal pain.
Patients with FMS may feel down, or even mildly depressed, though clinical
depression only results in about 25% of people with FMS. Some patients instead experience
chronic anxiety and may have a difficult time concentrating. Some patients experience
paresthesia, or a numbness and tingling in their hands and feet. Because this is a symptom
of other neuromuscular diseases, tests for diseases such as MS may be ordered. Other
symptoms of fibromyalgia might include sensitivity to light or temperature.
For more information
Questions About Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia Research: Challenges and Opportunities
Articles and Research about Fibromyalgia
& Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resource