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Fibromyalgia (cont.)

Cause

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome—a set of symptoms that occur together. Experts have ideas about what may cause it, but there is not enough evidence to support any one idea. Some ideas include:

  • Nerve cells may be too sensitive.
  • Chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) may be out of balance.
  • The deep phase of sleep may be disrupted and affect the amount of hormones that your body releases.

Many people connect the beginning of their symptoms to a certain event, such as the flu, an injury or surgery, or emotional trauma and stress.1 An event of this type combined with other things, such as increased sensitivity to pain and sleep problems, may lead to fibromyalgia in some people.

Symptoms

The symptoms of fibromyalgia vary from person to person. Symptoms can last from days to months or years.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Widespread deep or burning pain above and below your waist and on the right and left sides of your body. Pain is more common in the trunk, neck, low back, hips, and shoulders. It usually gets worse gradually and can interfere with even simple daily activities.
  • Tender pointsClick here to see an illustration. (or trigger points) on the body that hurt when pressed.

Other symptoms that can occur along with pain include:

  • Fatigue that interferes with work and daily activities.
  • Sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or waking up feeling tired.
  • Morning stiffness lasting less than an hour.
  • Headaches.
  • Constipation or diarrhea related to irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Memory problems and trouble concentrating.
  • Anxiety or depression.

People with fibromyalgia have times when their symptoms get worse and other times when they have milder or no symptoms. Flare-ups of fatigue and muscle and joint aches are common, especially following physical or emotional stress. Many people with fibromyalgia say that cold or damp weather, poor sleep, fatigue, stress, or being too active makes their pain worse.

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