Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread severe, often debilitating pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance and fatigue. The cause or causes or these symptoms has not been proven.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
- Morning stiffness
- Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
- Headaches, including migraines
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep disturbances/insomnia
- Cognitive dysfunction with thinking and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”)
- Painful menstrual periods and other pain syndromes
- Sound sensitivity, light sensitivity, temperature sensitivity
- Sharp and aching pain in connective tissue areas (next to joints)
- Muscle twitches
- And more
Who gets fibromyalgia?
The prevalence of fibromyalgia is about 2% of the population, affecting an estimated 5 million adults in 2005.
- Most people with fibromyalgia are women (female to male ratio of 7:1). However, men and children also can have the disorder.
- Most people are diagnosed during middle age, and prevalence increases as a generation gets older.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
Diagnosing fibromyalgia is achieved by the physician comparing the patient’s symptoms to a criteria or by doing a “tender point” test. If 11 of the 18 connective tissue areas of the body are tender when pressure is applied, and no other explanation for this pain is found, then the person likely has fibromyalgia.
Progress in ME/CFS research may also help find answers about fibromyalgia because many of the symptoms are the same or very similar. Additionally, many people with a fibromyalgia diagnosis also have ME/CFS and don’t know it.