Tuesday, 8 November 2011

What is fibromyalgia?

The location of the nine paired tender points

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome

A syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms and medical problems. A disease is a medical condition with defined causes and clear signs and symptoms.

The word fibromyalgia comes from the Greek myos meaning "muscle", Greek algos meaning "pain", and New Latin fibro meaning "fibrous tissue". fibromyalgia is often describerd as "A common syndrome of chronic widespread soft-tissue pain accompanied by weakness, fatigue, and sleep disturbances; the cause is unknown." Fibromyalgia is a common and chronic disorder. When a health illness or condition is chronic it means it is long-lasting.   

Even though fibromyalgia is frequently referred to as an arthritis-related condition, it does not cause joint damage or inflammation, as arthritis does. Neither does fibromyalgia cause damage to muscle and other tissues. However, it is similar to arthritis because it causes severe pain and tiredness, and can undermine the patient's ability to go about his daily activities. Fibromyalgia is seen as a rheumatic condition. A rheumatic condition is one that causes joint and soft tissue pain.
There is more and more compelling evidence that fibromyalgia is in fact a neurological disorder. Caused by miss aligned pain signals being sent through the nervous system give false pain and discomfort. There is also evidence that fibromyalgia is closely connected to the Epstein-Barr virus.

What are the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia?

  • Morning stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Painful menstrual periods (Dysmenorrhea)
  • Hands and feet tingle and can feel numb
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Fibro fog (memory problems, cognitive problems)

The following signs and symptoms are also possible

  • Widespread pain
  • Problems with vision
  • Nausea
  • Pelvic and urinary problems
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness
  • Cold/flu like symptoms
  • Jaw pain and stiffness
  • Skin problems
  • Chest symptoms
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Myofascial pain syndrome (pain/tiredness in muscles and adjacent fibrous tissues)
  • Breathing problems

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