Fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyositis or fibrositis, is a medical condition that can make daily life difficult. People with fibromyalgia encounter chronic pain and fatigue in their joints and muscles as the condition afflicts the body’s connective tissues. Estimates on the number of people who suffer from fibromyalgia vary, with the Mayo Clinic estimating two percent of the population on the low end and the Penn State University Medical Center reporting as much as six percent on the high end.
There is no definitive cause of fibromyalgia, but a few groups tend to be more vulnerable than others. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that women are afflicted more often than men. Fibromyalgia seems to become more pronounced with age in both prevalence and severity. Heredity also appears to be a factor as many sufferers have a close relative who also has fibromyalgia.
According to the Hershey Medical Center at Penn State University, diagnosing fibromyalgia can be a challenge. The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be mistaken for similar conditions like arthritis. Also, there is currently no test that can specifically identify fibromyalgia, making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia difficult to reach. According to the UCLA Health System, the main difference between fibromyalgia and a condition like rheumatoid arthritis is that affected areas do not swell or become damaged or deformed.
The dominant symptoms of fibromyalgia are pain, discomfort, and tenderness throughout various tender points on the body. Pain from fibromyalgia affects joints and muscles alike, often throughout the entire body. In fibromyalgia, tender joins can include the elbows, knees, shoulders, hips, and neck. The degree of pain and discomfort can vary from an occasional nagging annoyance to intolerable constant achiness.
Fatigue frequently accompanies the pain and discomfort of fibromyalgia. Energy and endurance can be moderately or severely limited depending on the degree of the condition. Sleep disturbances are often found in fibromyalgia patients; they may not be able to attain deep sleep or they may experience a related sleeping disorder. Trouble with memory or other cognitive difficulties may also arise, possibly as a result of the associated sleep disturbances.
A few other symptoms may arise in those afflicted with fibromyalgia. Frequent headaches and irritable bowel syndrome may present themselves. With frequent pain, fatigue, and trouble sleeping, depression may also arise in fibromyalgia sufferers.
Fibromyalgia is a condition similar to arthritis, causing aches and pain in joints throughout the body, but unlike arthritis, it can strike muscles as well. The pain from fibromyalgia can range from the mild to the severe and everything in between. If you experience chronic dull aches in your joints and muscles or have any questions about fibromyalgia or similar conditions, talk to your doctor.
Fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic
Fibromyalgia. Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Penn State University.
Fibromyalgia. UCLA Health System. University of California Los Angeles.
Fibromyalgia. University of Maryland Medical Center.