Fibromyalgia is a complex, chronic, and disabling disorder. It causes widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, along with poor sleep and fatigue.
Fibromyalgia Trigger Points
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The exact cause is unknown.
The following conditions are commonly associated with fibromyalgia:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting fibromyalgia.
Risk factors include:
- Sex: female
- Age: 20-60 years old
- Physical or mental stress
(eg, accident, injury, or severe illness)
Common symptoms include:
- Generalized fatigue or tiredness
- Reduced physical endurance
- Generalized aches and pains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Muscle tightening or spasms
Pain in specific areas of the body, especially:
- Back (upper and lower)
- Hips and thighs
or poor sleep
- Sensations of numbness or swelling (although swelling is not actually present)
Chronic headaches, including
- Morning stiffness, worst on first arising
Factors that may trigger or worsen symptoms include:
- Weather changes, especially cold, damp weather
- Medical illness
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a thorough physical exam. There are no specific tests for this condition.
The doctor will look for the following signs:
- Widespread pain lasting three months or longer
- Tenderness (on physical exam) in at least 11 of 18 specific areas of the body
The goal of treatment is to relieve or control the symptoms. Treatments include:
Physical and Behavioral Therapies
- Eating a healthful diet
- Learning to cope
with physical and mental stress
Regular, moderate, low-impact exercise with your doctor's approval
Try gentle exercise that does not strain painful areas, such as:
- Swimming, preferably in warmer water
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
A team of experts studied fibromyalgia and recommended the following:
- Approach that focuses on medication and other treatments
- Heated pool treatments with or without exercise
- Individual exercise programs
- Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of counseling
- Other therapies (eg, massage, relaxation, physical therapy)
, paracetamol, or other weak opioids
Medications for pain relief (eg, tropisetron,
Since the cause is unknown, there are no guidelines for preventing fibromyalgia.
Last reviewed May 2008 by John C. Keel, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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