The name fibromyalgia comes from the two Greek words “fibro” and “mya,” which mean “fibrous tissue” and “muscle,” respectively. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that can affect your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. This condition is characterized by widespread pain throughout your body. Your muscles may also be affected by Fibromyalgia, as your nerves can send pain signals to muscles. When you have Fibromyalgia, you’re more likely to have poor sleep and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
A variety of medications are available to treat the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. However, they don’t actually target the source of the disease—in your muscles or tendons. Some medications are used to treat other symptoms associated with this condition and other medications are used to treat pain. To learn more, read our fibromyalgia information center or talk to your doctor.
This condition was first described in 1950 by Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard-trained endocrinologist. He noticed that patients suffering from chronic widespread pain were very likely to have sleep difficulties and RLS. Over time, this condition has become widely recognized as one of the most common causes of chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue syndrome.
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Symptoms and Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
In the U.S., Fibromyalgia affects nearly 5 million people, which is about 2% of the population. It can be diagnosed in adults, but it’s most common in women.
Fibromyalgia symptoms include widespread muscle pain and stiffness. You may also have fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or anxiety disorders. This condition typically affects your body in a symmetrical pattern. This means that your muscles, tendons, and ligaments may be painful on both your right and left sides. You may also experience swelling in certain areas of your body.
When you have this condition, you’re more likely to have poor sleep and restless leg syndrome (RLS). As a result of these symptoms, people with Fibromyalgia often feel exhausted throughout the day. They may also be unable to concentrate or perform their daily activities. These problems can lead to depression and other mental health problems.
Other signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia include:
Difficulty with normal movement or coordination
Pains, stiffness, or tingling in your muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, or nerve endings. (These are called referred pains.) You may have these sensations throughout your body at the same time. The pain can range from mild to severe. As a result of the discomfort, people with Fibromyalgia often sleep poorly and have problems sleeping through the night.
Pains or stiffness that won’t go away when you take over-the-counter pain medications. You may have these pains even if you don’t take your medications.
Pain in your muscles or joints that doesn’t go away after a few hours. You may get stiff throughout the day and feel restless throughout the night.
People with Fibromyalgia are more likely to have a warm body temperature and feel hot or cold easily. They may also have trouble regulating their body temperature, which could lead to fevers. As a result, you may develop a dry mouth and throat. You may also be confused by your symptoms, especially if they’re similar to other conditions. For instance, you may be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia if your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are so bad that your doctor thinks that’s the only diagnosis that fits your condition.
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia
Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia is based on a combination of symptoms. Your doctor will look for muscle pain in different areas of your body and may check other parts of your body, including the joints, tendons, and ligaments. Your doctor may also do a physical exam to see if there are any problems with bones or organs. Your doctor will talk to you about how your joints feel when you move them. You’ll also be asked about any other health problems or illnesses you’ve had in the past.
An Electroencephalogram (EEG) test can help diagnose this condition. The EEG looks at electrical activity in different parts of the brain. It shows abnormal brain waves that aren’t normal for people without fibromyalgia.
A blood test may be done to check your levels of vitamin D and vitamin B12. These can help with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.
A doctor may also talk to you about a sleep study or tests that measure changes in the electrical activity in your brain. Other tests you may need:
MRI: A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test is used to look at soft tissue problems and other problems inside the body. This test is more likely to show abnormalities than an X-ray scan or other types of diagnostic tests.
X-ray: An X-ray can show whether you have any problems with bones or muscles.
EKG, echocardiogram, EKG, electrocardiogram (EKG), EKG heart rhythm monitor: An E KG is a standard test used to check your heart rhythm. This test may be done to make sure there are no problems with the electrical system of your heart.
Stool exam: A stool exam looks at the amount of waste in your body.
Blood chemistry tests: Blood chemistry tests can help diagnose other health problems and diseases. Your doctor may order these tests if you’re experiencing some other symptoms that aren’t typical for Fibromyalgia. If you have any blood, urine, or other samples from when you were a child or teenager, those will be checked as well. You may need these blood and urine tests after your symptoms become worse and persist for more than 3 months.
Tests that may show up in the normal range are:
Enzyme test: Your doctor may order an enzyme test to help with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. This test can measure your levels of certain enzymes and other substances that help with a diagnosis of the condition.
Urine sample: A urine sample is used to check for high levels of protein. Protein in your urine can mean that there is damage to your kidneys, which could lead to complications with fibromyalgia. Your doctor may order a urine sample if you have any symptoms related to kidney problems, such as fever, blood in your urine, or loss of weight.