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Quick Facts

Fibromyalgia

(Myofascial Pain Syndrome; Fibrositis; Fibromyositis)

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes you to have pain and tenderness all over your body, extreme tiredness, and sleep problems.

  • You may have pain, stiffness, or achiness throughout your body, and certain parts of your body may be tender to the touch

  • Fibromyalgia is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it's not dangerous or fatal

  • There's no damage to your muscles, brain, or nerves

  • Fibromyalgia is more common in women

  • You may be more likely to have fibromyalgia if you have stress, have had an infection or injury, or people in your family have it

  • There’s no cure for fibromyalgia, but doctors can help you manage your symptoms

  • Some medicines, exercising, putting heat on sore muscles, and getting massages can help

What causes fibromyalgia?

Doctors don't know what causes fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia seem to have a greater sensitivity to pain than other people. Their brain seems to deal with pain signals differently.

Although people have pain in lots of muscles, fibromyalgia isn't a muscle disorder.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Symptoms include:

  • All-over aching and pain in your muscles

  • Feeling very tired all the time

  • Trouble concentrating, like your mind is foggy or cloudy

  • Problems sleeping

  • Tender spots on your muscles

  • Feeling tired, anxious, or depressed

Symptoms can be ongoing (chronic) or flare up from time to time.

What can trigger fibromyalgia?

Your symptoms may get worse when you are:

  • Having a lot of physical or mental stress

  • Sleeping poorly or feeling especially tired and run down

  • Spending a lot of time in dampness or cold

What problems go along with fibromyalgia?

How can doctors tell if I have fibromyalgia?

Doctors will ask about your symptoms. They'll examine you to see if your muscles are tender but still strong.

Blood tests can help doctors determine if you have another disease with similar symptoms, such as polymyalgia Polymyalgia Rheumatica Polymyalgia rheumatica involves inflammation of the lining of joints, causing severe pain and stiffness in the muscles of the neck, back, shoulders, and hips. The cause is unknown. The neck... read more . Fibromyalgia won't cause any abnormal results on lab tests or imaging studies (like x-rays or MRI).

How do doctors treat fibromyalgia?

Doctors will have you treat your symptoms by taking these steps:

  • Reduce your stress

  • Recognize that there’s no life-threatening disease causing your pain

  • Stretch your muscles gently for about 30 seconds and repeat 5 times

  • Do exercises that don't hurt your muscles or joints such as walking or swimming

  • Apply heat or gently massage the area that hurts

  • Keep warm

  • Get enough sleep

Improve your sleep by:

  • Avoiding caffeine (in coffee, tea, and soda)

  • Sleeping in a quiet dark room in a comfortable bed

  • Avoiding eating or watching TV in bed

Doctors may prescribe medicines to help with symptoms, such as:

  • Antidepressants (especially to help with sleep)

  • Some antiseizure medicines

  • Pain medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Sometimes, physical therapy and talk therapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy) can help.

Fibromyalgia tends to be chronic (long-lasting) but may get better on its own if you take care of yourself and have less stress.

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OTHER TOPICS IN THIS CHAPTER

Muscle, Bursa, and Tendon Disorders
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Test your knowledge

Iron
Most of the body’s iron is found in hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that enables the cells to supply oxygen to all the body’s tissues. Iron also plays a role in muscle cell function and the formation of some enzymes. While iron is found in many foods, it may or may not be easily absorbed depending on the type of iron. Which of the following foods contains the more easily absorbed type of iron?
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