Symptoms often begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is often described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with the condition have other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
A symptom commonly referred to as "fibro fog" impairs the ability to focus, pay attention, and concentrate on mental tasks. Fibromyalgia patients may also experience depression, headaches, and pain or cramping in the lower abdomen.
Doctors don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men and it tends to run in families. Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care that emphasize minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms.