Facts on Fibromyalgia


Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by chronic, debilitating pain all over the body, especially in the shoulders, neck, hips, legs, arms and back. Other characteristics of the disease include tender points, a heightened pain sensation to factors that would not usually cause pain, and psychological stress. Although there is no particular cause, the condition is triggered by certain genetic, neurobiological, environmental and psychological factors.

A Unique Condition with Many Questions

Fibromyalgia is a unique condition because it does not follow standard medical characteristics, which makes it hard to diagnosis. Experts describe the disorder as a neurobiological abnormality that produces cognitive impairments and physiological pain as well as neuro-psychological symptoms involving inflammatory or malfunctioning pathways to the brain. This abnormal process occurs as a result of an unusual pain process or a disordered sensory process in which no sensor stimuli occurs yet the patient still feels pain.

Approximately two percent of the population in the United States is affected by fibromyalgia with a male to female ratio of 1:9. Other symptoms include disturbed sleep, light, sound and cognitive problems, extreme fatigue, and sensitivity to touch. Some patients also experience lupus, arthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome. 

Fibromyalgia pain is considered to be chronic, widespread, profound and debilitating. It varies in intensity throughout the body and can cause shooting pain, deep muscle aches, twitching, stabbing or throbbing pain. Pain is often worse first thing in the morning. Neurological symptoms may include anxiety, stress, depression, migraines, and mental and physical fatigue.

Treating the Symptoms

Treatment options include a variety of methods. Several pharmacological drugs are available to deal with pain. Antidepressants may also be prescribed to help improve pain and sleep. Injections of medicine into the localized pain area may also be warranted.

Healthy sleep, eating, and exercise habits are recommended to get the pain under control and develop healthy lifestyle habits. Psychological support may also be needed to get through the difficulties of living with a chronic illness. Alternative therapies may include physical therapy, massage, acupressure, hot or cold presses, yoga, and water treatment.