Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome of chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. The pain is thought to be caused by abnormalities in the pain pathways in the central nervous system. Other symptoms are believed to be caused by sleep abnormalities.
Fibromyalgia specifically means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, generally all the softer, more fibrous tissues in the body. There is a sense, according to most patients, of ‘aching all over’, with the related symptoms of a chronic case of flu. Muscles often feel as if they have been pulled or worked too hard and there are instances where muscles may twitch or feel like they’re burning. Cognitive abilities can also be affected with many patients reporting having ‘brain-fog’, where they find functions such as concentration and memory to be impaired.
Fibromyalgia affects people of all ages and backgrounds, although it is seven times more likely to be diagnosed in women than men. The condition often develops between the ages of 30 and 50 but it can occur in people of all ages including the very young and very old, especially when it is the result of an accident or injury.
Figures regarding how many people are living with fibromyalgia vary, although it is often described as a common condition. Arthritis Research UK and other charities and bodies in related areas believe that 1 in 25 people in the UK may be affected with the condition to some degree.
There are more severe cases and those where people can function comfortably from day to day, with only mild symptoms.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia is difficult because of the conditions which are closely related and have very similar symptoms. There is no specific test for the condition and therefore one of the main processes in diagnosing fibromyalgia is ruling out other conditions, often through urine and blood tests and a range of scans.
Many people suffering with fibromyalgia have related conditions such as chronic pain syndrome.
Fibromyalgia can be triggered by a sudden forceful injury to the muscles such as a whiplash injury, injury caused by a fall or due to being hit with a falling object or a sprain developed from lifting a heavy object.
Click here to learn more about what causes fibromyalgia.