Fibromyalgia is a chronic health condition that causes pain and tenderness all over the body. The condition is believed to amplify painful sensations by affecting how the brain and spinal cord process signals. Symptoms may appear gradually over time or after an event like physical trauma, surgery, infection, or significant psychological stress.
Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. Those with the condition may also experience tension headaches, temporomandibular joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression.
Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, various medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation, and stress-reduction techniques may also be effective in managing the condition.
Fibromyalgia’s main signs and symptoms include:
- Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is typically described as a persistent, dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. For the pain to be classified as widespread, it must affect both sides of the body and occur both above and below the waist.
- Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often wake up feeling tired, even though they report having slept for long periods of time. Sleep is frequently disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia also have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
- Cognitive difficulties. The “fibro fog” symptom makes it difficult to concentrate, pay attention, and focus on mental work.
Frequently, fibromyalgia coexists with additional conditions, such as:
- Depression or anxiety
- Migraine and other types of headaches
- Painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Postural tachycardia syndrome
Fibromyalgia is a condition where people are more sensitive to pain due to changes in the brain and spinal cord caused by repeated nerve stimulation. This change is characterized by increased levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain, and pain receptors that become sensitized and overreact to both painful and non-painful signals. The cause of fibromyalgia is not fully understood, but genetic mutations in the genes responsible for forming neurotransmitters that transmit and receive pain signals in the brain may play a role.
These alterations are probably caused by a variety of reasons, including:
- Genetics. Given that fibromyalgia frequently runs in families, specific genetic alterations might increase your risk of getting the condition.
- Infections. Some diseases seem to cause or worsen fibromyalgia.
- Physical or emotional events. A physical occurrence, such a vehicle accident, may occasionally cause fibromyalgia to develop. The disorder may also be brought on by persistent psychological stress.
Fibromyalgia risk factors include:
- Gender. Women are diagnosed with fibromyalgia more frequently than males.
- Family history. If your parent or sibling has fibromyalgia, you might be more likely to get it yourself.
- Other disorders. You may have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia if you have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis.