What Is Fibromyalgia?
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
It is not known how a person gets fibromyalgia.
Certain risk factors for developing fibromyalgia include:
- Being female: women are twice as likely to develop fibromyalgia as men
- Genetics: fibromyalgia tends to run in families
- Illness (such as viral infections)
- Repetitive injuries
- Stressful or traumatic events, such as car accidents or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Age: most people are diagnosed during middle age
- Mood problems such as anxiety, panic disorder, and depression
- Certain diseases
- Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
What Are Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- Pain and stiffness all over the body
- Increased sensitivity to pain (compared to people without fibromyalgia), called abnormal pain perception processing
- Morning stiffness
- Headaches, including migraines
- Sleep problems
- Problems with thinking, memory, and concentration (called “fibro fog”)
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Pain in the face or jaw, including temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
- Abdominal pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Painful menstrual periods
When symptoms of fibromyalgia temporarily increase in frequency or intensity, it is called a fibromyalgia attack or flare-up.
How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
Fibromyalgia is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, along with tests such as:
- Blood tests
Criteria used to help diagnose fibromyalgia may include:
- A history of widespread pain and symptoms lasting more than 3 months
- The number of areas throughout the body in which pain has occurred in the past week, based on the total of number of painful areas out of 19 parts of the body, plus the level of severity of these symptoms:
- Waking unrefreshed
- Cognitive (memory or thought) problems
- No other health problems that explain the pain and other symptoms
What Is the Treatment for Fibromyalgia?
Treatment for fibromyalgia may include:
- Self-management/lifestyle changes
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
- Tramadol (Ultram) for severe pain (short-term use only)
- Pregabalin (Lyrica) for nerve pain
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and milnacipran (Savella) for pain and fatigue
- Older drugs that affect the same brain chemicals such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
- Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), amitriptyline (Elavil), gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica) for sleep problems
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat depression
- Patient education classes, usually in primary care or community settings
- Complementary therapies
- Chiropractic therapy
- Movement therapy
- Stress management
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