Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that affects 5 million adults in the United States. It's associated with fatigue and muscle pain, including tender points that hurt when pressure is applied. Pressure points are specific to the neck and shoulder areas, back, hips and extremities.

Fibromyalgia is much more common in women than men. Although it's a long-term condition, it does not damage muscles or joints and does not get worse over time. For many people, the condition gets better over time.

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain, tenderness and fatigue. Symptoms may come and go. Sometimes they're severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Other symptoms include:

  • Trouble sleeping, and waking from sleep unrefreshed
  • Uncomfortable and uncontrolled leg movements at night (restless legs syndrome)
  • Diarrhea, constipation or belly cramps (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Other pain syndromes, including pelvic, bladder and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Morning stiffness
  • Confusion and difficulty with memory (called "brain fog")
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Increased sensitivity to noise, light or temperature

Some people have a heightened risk for fibromyalgia. Risk factors include:

  • Being a woman (more than 80 percent of people with fibromyalgia are women)
  • Being older than 18
  • Having a family history of fibromyalgia
  • Having another condition that affects muscles and joints (including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal arthritis)

The cause of fibromyalgia is not known. It may be caused by genes passed down through families and subsequently triggered by a stressful event. Triggers may include:

  • Spine injury
  • Arthritis
  • Other injuries
  • Emotional stress

There is no cure for the condition, but treatment options are available to help manage pain and other symptoms.

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