Symptoms and Signs of Fibromyalgia

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/29/2021

Doctor's Notes on Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes chronic pain in muscles and ligaments, mainly in women ages mid-30s to late-50s. Signs and symptoms of the disease are widespread pain in the muscles and ligaments, not in the joints, and located most often in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips; the areas can be tender and sensitive, more in the morning hours and maybe burning, throbbing, aching or stabbing. Chronic fatigue is also common; it is not relieved by sleep or rest. Many patients develop fibro fog (brain fog); which means mental haziness with memory loss and depression.

Other symptoms may include insomniaheadaches, nervousness, numbness, dizziness, and irritable bowel syndrome.

There is no known cause for fibromyalgia. However, substance P which transmits pain impulses has been found to be 3 times higher in fibromyalgia patients and may explain why they feel more pains. Other researchers suggest the patients lack deep sleep (stage 4 sleep) when the muscles and the body recover from daily activities. Risk factors associated with the illness include fibromyalgia in a close family member, physical or emotional trauma, and having sleep apnea.

What is the treatment for fibromyalgia?

Treatments of fibromyalgia usually have two main components medications and self-help therapies. Most patients require combinations of medications and therapies; your doctors may try more than one plan to see what is your best treatment plan. The following are medications and therapies often used to treat fibromyalgia: 

Medications

Therapies

  • Physical – strength improvement
  • Occupational – task improvement, stress reduction
  • Counseling
  • Stress management
  • Regular sleep time
  • Regular exercise 
  • Establish a healthy lifestyle

Your doctor may choose additional medications and/or therapies.

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.