Answers FAQ

Fibromyalgia FAQs

Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

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Q:What characterizes fibromyalgia?

A:Pain, tenderness, and stiffness in muscles, tendons, and joints. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints. Fibromyalgia does not cause damage to internal body organs.

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Q:What causes fibromyalgia?

A:The answer is not known. The precise cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Fibromyalgia can occur on its own, but it has also been linked to family history, stressful or traumatic, psychological distress, trauma, illness, injury, and/or infection.

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Q:What is the universal symptom of fibromyalgia?

A:Pain. The universal symptom of fibromyalgia is pain.

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Q:What is serotonin?

A:A neurotransmitter that relays signals in the brain. As a neurotransmitter, serotonin helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another.

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Q:Typically, fibromyalgia patients do not get restful sleep. True or False?

A:True. People with fibromyalgia generally do not get restful sleep They are also supersensitive to touch with a keen perception of pain and have low levels of serotonin.

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Q:Fibromyalgia appears to be related to depression. True or False?

A:True. Many studies link fibromyalgia and depression. Learning more about the connection between fibromyalgia and depression can help patients seek appropriate medical treatment, which includes antidepressants.

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Q:Symptoms of fibromyalgia can include excessive hunger and weight gain. True or False?

A:False. Excessive hunger and weight gain are not typically recognized as symptoms of fibromyalgia. Generally, symptoms of fibromyalgia can include the following: Cognitive and memory problems (sometimes called "fibro fog"), trouble sleeping, morning stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling of hands and feet, restless legs syndrome, temperature sensitivity, and sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights.

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Q:With fibromyalgia, normal stimuli can cause pain. This is possibly due to what?

A:Elevated levels of substance P. Substance P is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the transmission of pain signaling.

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Q:Fibromyalgia is a women's disease. True or False?

A:False. While fibromyalgia predominantly affects women (over 80% of those affected are women) between the ages of 35 and 55, it can also affect men.

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Q:People are diagnosed with fibromyalgia because of abnormal blood tests. True or False?

A:False. Fibromyalgia cannot be found by a lab test.

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Q:Head-to-toe pain must be present for an accurate diagnosis or fibromyalgia. True or False?

A:False. A doctor who knows about fibromyalgia uses these two criteria on which to base a diagnosis of fibromyalgia: 1. There is a history of widespread pain lasting more than three months. Pain must be present in both the right and left sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. 2. Tender points must be present. The body has many sites that are possible tender points.

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Q:Which treatment has not been approved for the management of fibromyalgia?

A:Calcipotriene (Sorilux ®). Three medicines have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia. These are: - Pregabalin (Lyrica ®) - Duloxetine (Cymbalta ®) - Milnacipran (Savella ®) Doctors may also suggest non-narcotic pain relievers, low-dose antidepressants, or other classes of medications that might help improve certain symptoms.

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Q:Which illness behaves the most like fibromyalgia?

A:Chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue that impairs daily functioning is characteristic of both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. People with chronic fatigue syndrome do not have the tender points that people with fibromyalgia have.

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Q:Fibromyalgia is a form of arthritis. True or False?

A:False. Fibromyalgia is not a disease of the joints (arthritis) since it does not cause inflammation in the joints, muscles, or other tissues. But fibromyalgia can (like arthritis) cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can similarly interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities.

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