Fibromyalgia is a common chronic disease that causes muscle and soft tissue pain. The word itself comes from the Latin term for tissue – fibro, and the Greek terms for muscle – myo and pain – algia.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, and tendons. Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 10 million people in the United States alone.
This pain can occur anywhere in the body and it is often hard to determine where it hurts. Usually, the pain happens in the neck, shoulders, hips, arms, or legs.
These commonplaces and muscles are becoming tender spots and they hurt with just a little pressure.
All these tender spots are actually how most of the times fibromyalgia is determined.
Most of the people who suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome have previously suffered from another disease, such as back pains, arthritis, headache, or irritable bowel syndrome.
Living with fibromyalgia syndrome is not only about muscle pain. The reason why it is called a syndrome is that apart from physical pain, people also tend to develop some psychological problems.
That’s why managing your stress levels is an important thing when dealing with fibromyalgia.
Many people connect fibromyalgia syndrome with arthritis, but this is certainly not the case. Fibromyalgia does not cause joint problems and damage like arthritis does.
However, people relate to these two conditions because the pain is somehow similar in both of them.
Because of all the mixed pains and feelings, sometimes it can be really difficult to diagnose fibromyalgia syndrome.
We know for sure that there are tender spots on the arms, legs, hips, shoulders, and neck.
However, the pain usually tends to spread throughout the whole body and people can’t tell exactly what hurts them. The pain level can be variable and hard to determine.
It can vary from very low to impossibly high levels. The pain might be in the form of aching, burning, even shooting, and stubbing pain.
Anxiety and depression are two of the next most common things that people suffering from fibromyalgia tend to develop.
Some stress management programs or therapy can help with these problems.
Other symptoms that are typical for people with fibromyalgia syndrome are fatigue and difficulties sleeping, as well as regular mood changes, short-term memory loss, numbness of the hands and feet, restless legs, migraine, and maybe some others, depending on the individual.
Another characteristic symptom of a person with fibromyalgia syndrome is morning stiffness.
People who suffer from fibromyalgia usually feel more pain and stiffness of the muscles in the morning when they get up. That’s when the pain is more reflected.
Who’s more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is present in approximately 5 million Americans who are 18 or more years old.
Researches and studies have shown that somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of all the people who suffer from these pains are women. The reason why this so remains unknown.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged people.
However, it is claimed that most of these people have developed one or more of the symptoms much earlier in life.
The opinions regarding the cause of fibromyalgia are very diverse. It is still not precisely and scientifically determined the exact cause, but there are many assumptions.
Some professionals think that fibromyalgia is connected to stress, illness, trauma, or previous injuries.
Others think that genes play a big role and that fibromyalgia might be hereditary.
And some claim that hormonal and chemical imbalances might be the cause of fibromyalgia. So, for now, the cause remains unknown.
Although there are many assumptions and different opinions, all researchers agree on the fact that there is probably more than one cause.
They all think there is not just one cause, but a sequence or a chain of events and causes that incite fibromyalgia syndrome.
Getting diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
The diagnosis itself may take a lot of time and many visits to the doctor. There are no special analyses or laboratory tests for fibromyalgia. That’s why you will have to tell your doctor all your symptoms and conditions.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to other conditions and an untrained person might confuse them with a different condition.
The most important thing is checking the medical history of the patient to see if there are signs of previous pains or injuries.
Then, your doctor needs to check for 18 tender spots on the body (as mentioned before).
At least 10 of these spots need to be tender for fibromyalgia to be diagnosed.