Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition where there is heightened pain response and widespread pain. While the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, experts believe that it may be due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. The condition has been found to be more common among family members, with the involvement of many genes. Some environmental factors that have been thought to cause fibromyalgia include certain infections, psychological stress, and trauma.
The pain seems to be due to processes in the central nervous system and is referred to as “central sensitization syndrome.” The diagnosis is based on the patient’s history and physical examination of the patient. There are no diagnostic tests available (except to rule out other conditions) for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Treatment can be difficult and often includes lifestyle changes such as having a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and regular exercise. Cognitive behavioral therapy has also been found to be beneficial. Medications that may be used are pregabalin, duloxetine, and milnacipran.
Although it is a chronic condition, researchers have not found any evidence of tissue damage or death. Fibromyalgia has been estimated to affect about 2 to 8 percent of the population, with women twice as likely to be affected compared to men.
Symptom #1: Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be defined as pain that lasts more than 12 weeks. Pain is a subjective and personal experience. There are no tests available that can locate or measure pain. This is why medical professionals rely on the patient’s description of timing, characteristic, and location of pain.
Pain can be described as constant, intermittent, sharp, dull, throbbing, or burning. In fibromyalgia, patients often experience chronic pain that is widespread. There may be tender points that continue to hurt despite medication. Research has suggested that the pain in fibromyalgia may be cause by a “glitch” in the way the body processes the pain, resulting in hypersensitivity to stimuli that are usually not painful.