What is Fibromyalgia?

In trying to explain fibromyalgia, the American College of Rheumatology uses an effective analogy. They say that for the person with fibromyalgia, it is as though the volume control is turned up too high in the brain's pain processing areas. Consequently, they endure chronic pain across much of their body, despite no evident source of that pain, in addition to a wide range of other symptoms including chronic fatigue and muscle soreness.

Is it a disease?

Fibromyalgia is not a clinical disease, it is a syndrome. In other words, it is a set of symptoms that are often experienced together but are not related to a specified cause.

Is it fatal?

No. Fibromyalgia by itself is never fatal.

Does it just go away?

No. While the symptoms may come and go, fibromyalgia is chronic. It could last a lifetime.

Does it get worse?

No. It is not progressive. In fact, many people improve over time.

Does it damage the body?

No. Fibromyalgia has not been shown to damage organs, muscles or joints.

Is fibromyalgia for real?

There is something of a minor credibility gap with fibromyalgia because so many symptoms are reported by sufferers and yet it is an invisible condition it can not be measured by medical devices. But this is the nature of pain; pain is personal, it is experienced and assessed by everyone differently.

And pain all-over body pain is the central symptom of fibromyalgia.

Adding to this credibility problem, according to the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, is the possibility that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalopathy) might actually be the same condition.

Is fibromyalgia a form of arthritis?

No. Arthritis is a joint disease characterized by inflammation. Fibromyalgia does not cause joint inflammation. It is an arthritis-related condition, though, because of the similar pain and fatigue in the joints and tissues.

As such, arthritis and fibromyalgia are both considered rheumatic conditions, medical conditions that impair the joints and tissues, leading to chronic pain.

Who gets fibromyalgia?

Estimates on how many US adults suffer from fibromyalgia range from 3 to 6 million. It appears to affect people middle-aged or older (although it does affect children), and far more women are diagnosed than men as many as four out of every five are women.

What does the word fibromyalgia mean?

The word comes from both ancient Latin and Greek, combining the Latin word for fibrous tissue (fibro) with the Greek words for muscle (myo) and pain (algia).

 

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References


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Did you know?

Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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