What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic (long-term) disease that is characterized throughout your body by pain and tenderness, as well as fatigue.

People with fibromyalgia tend to feel more painful. Sometimes this sensation is defined as a steady ache in the muscle.

Fibromyalgia, formerly known as fibrositis, is often regarded a disorder that is rheumatic, or “arthritis-like.” But it does not cause harm to joints, muscles, or other tissues, unlike arthritis and certain associated circumstances.

Fibromyalgia is not a progressive disease, meaning that over time it will not deteriorate continuously.

Fibromyalgia is not cured, but there are treatments available that can help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.

How is fibromyalgia common?

Fibromyalgia is one of the most frequent illnesses of chronic pain.

According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), it impacts about 10 million adults in the United States and 3 to 6 percent of the world’s population.

While fibromyalgia may happen in anybody, in females it is more prevalent. According to NFA estimates, between 75 and 90% of individuals diagnosed with the disorder are females.

But, according to Don L. Goldenberg, MD, a rheumatologist and emeritus professor of medicine and nursing at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, at least some of this gender disparity may be due to bias in how physicians approach the diagnostic process.

People of all races and ethnicities are affected by the disease. According to Dr. Goldenberg, it is slightly more prevalent if you smoke, are obese, have a reduced educational level, or have suffered trauma during your adolescence.

Most individuals with fibromyalgia are diagnosed between 20 and 50 years of age, with symptoms typically appearing months or even years earlier. It is even possible for kids to have fibromyalgia.

But the prevalence of the condition increases with age, so by age 80, 8% of individuals fulfill the fibromyalgia requirements, the NFA suggests.

What is Fibromyalgia Causes

Researchers do not understand precisely what causes fibromyalgia, but it appears to happen when pain is not correctly processed by the central nervous system of the body.

While fibromyalgic pain may feel like it comes from a particular region of your body, “it actually comes from the brain, from the central nervous system,” tells Goldenberg. “The pain is not where you believe it is.” Although it is often grouped with rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and lupus, fibromyalgia is not regarded as an inflammatory disease or a joint or muscle disorder.

It is also not an autoimmune disease— a situation in which healthy tissues are wrongly attacked by the body’s immune system.

Goldenberg suggests that viewing fibromyalgia in easy terms of cause and effect is a mistake.

“Hypersensitive or hyperirritable is the central nervous system,” he suggests. “It’s like the thermostat is set too high on sensitivity to your nervous system.” But symptoms of fibromyalgia often start after physical or emotional trauma, such as disease, surgery, infection, stressful life event, or injury.

Some specialists think that these occurrences may cause the onset of the disease, but how this link can be explained is uncertain.

Repeated stimulation, according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause brains to shift in individuals with fibromyalgia — leading to an rise in chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, signaling pain.

The real receptors of pain in the brain may also undergo modifications, developing some sort of “memory” that causes them to overreact to signals of pain.

To complicate matters, in the lack of trauma, fibromyalgia may also appear to happen spontaneously.

Genetics can play a part as well. Families often experience fibromyalgia, and having a relative with the disease puts you at enhanced danger for it.

But genes alone, according to the American College of Rheumatology, are not liable for fibromyalgia.

Who is fibromyalgia treating?

There is no specialty in the medicine to treat fibromyalgia. The disease can be recognized and managed by some family physicians or internists (inner medicine specialists).

Other kinds of physicians who treat fibromyalgia frequently include:

Rheumatologists, internists who are specialized in the treatment of arthritis and joint, muscle and soft tissue illnesses

Neurologist who treats brain and nervous diseases

Doctors who treat all types of pain, including fibromyalgia-related pain

Ask if they are treating fibromyalgia before making an appointment with any of these experts. Not all experts in rheumatology, neurology, or pain management are familiar with fibromyalgia.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia is known to cause extensive body-wide pain and tenderness, as well as tiredness. It may also trigger sleep difficulties, memory or concentration problems (“fibro fog”), dizziness, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises, headaches, digestive problems, and dry eyes or mouth.

Because fibromyalgia symptoms overlap with those of many other circumstances, it may be hard to diagnose fibromyalgia. In reality, seeing several physicians and having many medical exams to rule out other circumstances before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia is not unusual.

Learn more about symptoms and diagnosis of fibromyalgia

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