What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (fi·bro·my·al·gi·a) is a condition that causes pain all over the body (also referred to as widespread pain), sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress. People with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to pain than people without fibromyalgia. This is called abnormal pain perception processing. Fibromyalgia affects about 4 million US adults, about 2% of the adult population. The cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it can be effectively treated and managed.
What are the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia?
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are
• Pain and stiffness all over the body.
• Fatigue and tiredness.
• Depression and anxiety.
• Sleep problems.
• Problems with thinking, memory, and concentration.
• Headaches, including migraines.
What are the risk factors for fibromyalgia?
Age. Fibromyalgia can affect people of all ages, including children. However, most people are diagnosed during middle age and you are more likely to have fibromyalgia as you get older.
Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you are more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Doctors usually diagnose fibromyalgia using the patient’s history, physical examination, X-rays, and blood work.
How is fibromyalgia treated?
Fibromyalgia can be effectively treated and managed with medication and self-management strategies. You can learn about self-management strategies in the section below titled How can I improve my quality of life?
Fibromyalgia should be treated by a doctor or team of healthcare professionals who specialize in the treatment of fibromyalgia and other types of arthritis, called rheumatologists. Doctors usually treat fibromyalgia with a combination of treatments, which may include:
• Medications, including prescription drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers.
• Aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise.
• Patient education classes, usually in primary care or community settings.
• Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and massage.
• Good sleep habits to improve the quality of sleep.
• Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat the underlying depression. CBT is a type of talk therapy meant to change the way people act or think.
In addition to medical treatment, people can manage their fibromyalgia with the self-management strategies described below, which are proven to reduce pain and disability, so they can pursue the activities important to them.