Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue.

Fibromyalgia affects 5 million or more Americans ages 18 and older and for unknown reasons, most people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women, although men and children also can be affected. People with certain disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may also have fibromyalgia, which can affect their disease course and treatment. People with fibromyalgia often see many doctors before finally receiving a diagnosis. The main symptoms—pain and fatigue—overlap with those of many other conditions, which can complicate the diagnosis.

What are symptoms of fibromyalgia?

People with fibromyalgia have “tender points” on the body. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may also include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”)

What causes fibromyalgia?

What causes fibromyalgia isn’t fully understood and many factors likely contribute. People with fibromyalgia have changes in the communication between the body and the brain. These changes may lead the brain to interpret certain sensations as painful that might not be bothersome to people without the disorder. Anyone can get it, but it is most common in middle-aged women. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia.

How is fibromyalgia treated?

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Medications may help relieve some, but not all, symptoms of fibromyalgia. Research shows that exercise may work as well as or better than medications. In additional, therapies such as tai chi, yoga, and cognitive behavior therapy can also help to reduce symptoms. People with fibromyalgia often have the best results when treated with multiple therapies.

Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.