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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

Definition

Fibromyalgia is described as inflammation of the fibrous or connective tissue of the body. Widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points characterize these conditions. Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, and fibromyositis are names given to a set of symptoms believed to be caused by the same general problem.

Description

Fibromyalgia is more common than previously thought, with as many as 3-6% of the population affected by the disorder. Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in adults than children, with more women affected than men, particularly women of childbearing age.

Causes and symptoms

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Sometimes it occurs in several members of a family, suggesting that it may be an inherited disorder. People with fibromyalgia are most likely to complain of three primary symptoms: muscle and joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue.

Pain is the major symptom with aches, tenderness, and stiffness of multiple muscles, joints, and soft tissues. The pain also tends to move from one part of the body to another. It is most common in the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, hips, and back. Although the pain is present most of the time and may last for years, the severity of the pain changes and is dependent on individual patient perception.

Symptoms of fatigue may result from the individual's chronic pain coupled with anxiety about the problem and how to find relief. The inflammatory process also produces chemicals that are known to cause fatigue. Other common symptoms are tension headaches, difficulty swallowing, recurrent abdominal pain, diarrhea, and numbness or tingling of the extremities. Stress, anxiety, depression, or lack of sleep can increase symptoms. Intensity of symptoms is variable ranging from gradual improvement to episodes of recurrent symptoms.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is difficult and frequently missed because symptoms of fibromyalgia are vague and generalized. Coexisting nerve and muscle disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, spinal arthritis, or Lyme disease may further complicate the diagnostic process. Presently, there are no tests available to specifically diagnose fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made after ruling out other medical conditions with similar symptoms and using criteria physicians and researchers have defined.

Because of the emotional distress experienced by people with this condition and the influence of stress on the symptoms themselves, fibromyalgia has often been labeled a psychological problem. Recognition of the underlying inflammatory process involved in fibromyalgia has helped promote the validity of this disease.

In 1990, the America College of Rheumatology developed standards for fibromyalgia that health care practitioners can use to diagnose this condition. According to these standards, a person is thought to have fibromyalgia if he or she has widespread pain in combination with tenderness in at least 11 of the 18 sites known as trigger points. Trigger point sites include the base of the neck, along the backbone, in front of the hip and elbow, and at the rear of the knee and shoulder.

Treatment

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia. Therefore, the goal of treatment is successful symptom management. Treatment usually requires a combination of therapies, exercise, proper rest, and diet. A patient's clear understanding of his or her role in the recovery process is imperative for successful management of this condition. In 2004, a study demonstrated that a drug called paroxeteine HCI (Paxil CR) in controlled release tablet form significantly reduced symptoms in fibromyalgia patients. As of spring 2004, there were no FDA-approved treatments for fibromyalgia.

Treatments found to be helpful include heat and occasionally cold applications. A regular stretching program is often useful. Aerobic activities focusing on increasing the heart rate are the preferred forms of exercise over most other forms of exertion. Exercise programs need to include good warm-up and cool-down sessions, with special attention given to avoiding exercises causing joint pain. The diet should include a large variety of fruits and vegetables which provide the body with trace elements and minerals that are necessary for healthy muscles.

Adequate rest is essential in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Avoidance of stimulating foods or drinks (such as coffee) and medications like decongestants prior to bedtime is advised. If diet, exercise, and adequate rest do not relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, medications may be prescribed. Medications prescribed and found to have some benefit include antidepressant drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

People with fibromyalgia often need a rheumatology consultation (a meeting with a doctor who specializes in disorders of the joints, muscles, and soft tissue) to decide the cause of various rheumatic symptoms, to be educated about fibromyalgia and its treatment, and to exclude other rheumatic diseases. A treatment program must be individualized to meet the patient's needs. The rheumatologist, as the team leader, enlists and coordinates the expertise of other health professionals in the care of the patient.

Alternative treatment

Massage therapy can be helpful, especially when a family member is instructed on specific massage techniques to manage episodes of increased symptoms. Specific attention to mental health, including psychological consultation, may also be important, since depression may precede or accompany fibromyalgia. Other alternative therapies, including hellerwork, rolfing, homeopathic medicine, Chinese traditional medicine (both acupuncture and herbs), polarity therapy, and Western botanical medicine, can assist the person with fibromyalgia to function day to day and can contribute to healing.

Prognosis

Fibromyalgia is a chronic problem. The symptoms sometimes improve and at other times worsen, but they often continue for months to years.

Prevention

There is no known or specific way to prevent fibromyalgia. However, similar to many other medical conditions, remaining as healthy as possible with a good diet, safe exercise, and adequate rest is the best prevention.

Resources

PERIODICALS

"Study: Paroxetine Seems to Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms." Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week June 5, 2004: 803.

ORGANIZATIONS

The American College of Rheumatology. 1800 Century Place, Suite 250, Atlanta, GA 30345. (404) 633-3777. http://www.rheumatology.org.

Arthritis Foundation.1300 W. Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309. (800) 283-7800. http://www.arthritis.org.

KEY TERMS

Connective tissue Tissue that supports and binds other body tissue and parts.

Lyme disease An acute recurrent inflammatory disease involving one or a few joints, believed to be transmitted by a tickborne virus. The condition was originally described in the community of Lyme, Connecticut, but has also been reported in other parts of the United States and other countries. Knees, other large joints are most commonly involved with local inflammation and swelling.

Rheumatology The study of disorders characterized by inflammation, degeneration of connective tissue, and related structures of the body. These disorders are sometimes collectively referred to as rheumatism.

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Larson, Jeffrey; Odle, Teresa. "Fibromyalgia." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Larson, Jeffrey; Odle, Teresa. "Fibromyalgia." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3451600645.html

Larson, Jeffrey; Odle, Teresa. "Fibromyalgia." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. 2006. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3451600645.html

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

Definition

Fibromyalgia is described as inflammation of the fibrous or connective tissue of the body. Widespread muscle pain, fatigue , and multiple tender points characterize these conditions. Many individuals with fibromyalgia describe the symptoms as similar to the aches and pains of a severe case of the flu. Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, and fibromyositis are names given to a set of symptoms believed to be caused by the same general problem.

Description

Fibromyalgia is more common than previously thought, with as many as 3-6% of the population affected by the disorder. Fibromyalgia is more prevalent in adults than children, with more women affected than men, particularly women of childbearing age.

Causes & symptoms

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Sometimes it occurs in several members of a family, suggesting that it may be an inherited disorder. People with fibromyalgia are most likely to complain of three primary symptoms: muscle and joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue.

Pain is the major symptom with aches, tenderness, and stiffness of multiple muscles, joints, and soft tissues. The pain also tends to move from one part of the body to another. It is most common in the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, hips, and back. Although the pain is present most of the time and may last for years, the severity of the pain may fluctuate.

Symptoms of fatigue may result from the individual's chronic pain coupled with anxiety about the problem and how to find relief. The inflammatory process also produces chemicals that are known to cause fatigue. Other common symptoms are tension headaches, difficulty swallowing, recurrent abdominal pain, diarrhea , and numbness or tingling of the extremities. Stress , anxiety, depression , or lack of sleep can increase symptoms. Intensity of symptoms is variable ranging from gradual improvement to episodes of recurrent symptoms.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is difficult and frequently missed because symptoms of fibromyalgia are vague and generalized. Coexisting nerve and muscle disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis , spinal arthritis, or Lyme disease may further complicate the diagnostic process. Presently, there are no tests available to specifically diagnose fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made after ruling out other medical conditions with similar symptoms.

Because of the emotional distress experienced by people with this condition and the influence of stress on the symptoms themselves, fibromyalgia has often been labeled a psychological problem. Recognition of the underlying inflammatory process involved in fibromyalgia has helped promote the validity of this disease.

The American College of Rheumatology has developed standards for fibromyalgia that health care practitioners can use to diagnose this condition. According to these standards, a person is thought to have fibromyalgia if he or she has widespread pain in combination with tenderness in at least 11 of the 18 sites known as trigger points. Trigger point sites include the base of the neck, along the backbone, in front of the hip and elbow, and at the rear of the knee and shoulder.

Treatment

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia. Therefore, the goal of treatment is successful symptom management. Treatment usually requires a combination of therapies, exercise , and lifestyle adjustments. Adequate rest is essential in the treatment of fibromyalgia. The diet should include a large variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide the body with trace elements and minerals that are necessary for healthy muscles. Avoidance of stimulating foods or drinks (such as coffee) and medications like decongestants prior to bedtime is advised. A patient's clear understanding of his or her role in the recovery process is imperative for successful management of this condition.

Treatments found to be helpful include heat and occasionally cold compress applications. A regular stretching program is often useful. Aerobic activities focusing on increasing the heart rate are the preferred forms of exercise over most other forms of exertion. Exercise programs need to include good warm-up and cool-down sessions, with special attention given to avoiding exercises causing joint pain. Hydrotherapy exercises (exercises in a pool or tub) may be useful in providing a low impact exercise environment while soothing muscle and joint pain.

Massage therapy can be helpful, especially when a family member is instructed on specific massage techniques to manage episodes of increased symptoms. Short sessions are most helpful as repetitious movement can aggravate the condition. Specific attention to mental health, including psychological consultation, may also be important, since depression may precede or accompany fibromyalgia. Relaxation exercises, yoga, aromatherapy, guided imagery , and other relaxation therapies can be useful in easing stress and promoting overall well-being. Acupuncture can be very helpful for symptom relief and in easing the general condition.

Herbalists and aromatherapists may recommend tub soaks or compresses with lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ), chamomile (Chamaemelum nobilis ), or juniper (Juniperus communis ) to soothe muscle and joint pain.

Allopathic treatment

People with fibromyalgia often need a rheumatology consultation (a meeting with a doctor who specializes in disorders of the joints, muscles, and soft tissue) to decide the cause of various rheumatic symptoms, to be educated about fibromyalgia and its treatment, and to exclude other rheumatic diseases. A treatment program must be individualized to meet the patient's needs. The rheumatologist, as the team leader, enlists and coordinates the expertise of other health professionals in the care of the patient.

If diet, exercise, and adequate rest do not relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, medications may be prescribed. Medications prescribed and found to have some benefit include antidepressant drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Expected results

Fibromyalgia is a chronic health problem. The symptoms sometimes improve and at other times worsen, but they often continue for months to years.

Prevention

There is no known or specific prevention for fibromyalgia. However, similar to many other medical conditions, remaining as healthy as possible with a good diet, safe exercise, and adequate rest is the best prevention.

Resources

BOOKS

Skelly, Mari et al. Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Insights from Practitioners and Patients. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, 1999.

ORGANIZATIONS

The American College of Rheumatology. 60 Executive Park S., Ste. 150, Atlanta, GA 30329. (404) 633-3777. http://www.rheumatology.org.

Arthritis Foundation. 1330 W. Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309. (800) 283-7800. http://www.arthritis.org.

Paula Ford-Martin

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Ford-Martin, Paula. "Fibromyalgia." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Ford-Martin, Paula. "Fibromyalgia." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3435100311.html

Ford-Martin, Paula. "Fibromyalgia." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3435100311.html

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

What Is Fibromyalgia?

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

How Do People Know If They Have Fibromyalgia?

How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?

Living with Fibromyalgia

What Progress Is Being Made in Treating Fibromyalgia?

Resources

Fibromyalgia (fi-bro-my-AL-ja) is a chronic* disorder that causes widespread aching, stiffness, and fatigue in the muscles and joints.

KEYWORDS

for searching the Internet and other reference sources:

Musculoskeletal system

Rheumatic disorders

* chronic
(KRON-ik) means long lasting.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a relatively new term for an old disorder. It means pain in the muscles and joints*. The term fibrositis (fi-bro-SY-tis) was once used to describe the same condition. Three to 6 million Americans are thought to be affected by fibromyalgia. It occurs mostly in women aged 50 and older. Fibromyalgia is found throughout the world, among all ethnic groups. It is only rarely seen in children.

* joints
are places in the body where two bones fit together, usually in such a way as to allow motion.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia, but there are several theories. One is that fibromyalgia is caused by injury to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which sends messages to the muscles. A second theory is that biochemical changes in muscle tissue cause fatigue and loss of strength. A third theory suggests that fibromyalgia may be caused by a virus. Some patients with fibromyalgia have psychological problems, but it is unclear whether there is any relationship between the two.

How Do People Know If They Have Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia begins gradually. The main symptom is pain in the muscles and joints. The pain moves around but is most common in the neck, chest, arms, legs, hips, and back. In addition, patients may complain of headaches, tiredness, sleep disorders, digestive disturbances, anxiety, or depression.

Fibromyalgia can be frustrating to diagnose for both the doctor and the patient. The muscles hurt, but they look normal. Blood and x-ray tests are also normal. The symptoms can resemble those of a variety of illnesses, including infections, and the doctor needs to rule out such possibilities. Fibromyalgia also shares similarities with chronic fatigue syndrome. If no other explanation for a patients symptoms is found, a doctor may diagnose fibromyalgia if the pain keeps coming back, occurs in many different muscles, and has lasted for more than 3 months.

How Is Fibromyalgia Treated?

A doctor who suspects fibromyalgia will reassure the patient that the condition will not harm the muscles. The most effective treatment is a combination of exercise, medication (sometimes including antidepressant medications), physical therapy, and relaxation. Other approaches, such as massage and acupuncture, do not seem to be particularly helpful. There is no known way to prevent the condition.

Living with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder, which means that the symptoms may get better or worse but can last for months to years. Many communities have support groups for patients with fibromyalgia.

What Progress Is Being Made in Treating Fibromyalgia?

Because fibromyalgia is a source of serious disability for many people, organizations such as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases are sponsoring research to help diagnose, treat, and prevent it. For example, researchers are studying how structures of the brain are involved in the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia. They are also using sophisticated imaging technologies to study how the muscles perform.

See also

Arthritis

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Resources

Book

Mcllwain, Harris H., and Debra Fulghum Bruce. The Fibromyalgia Handbook. New York: Owl Books, 1996.

Organizations

American College of Rheumatology, 1800 Century Place, Suite 250,Atlanta, GA 30345.http://www.rheumatology.org

Arthritis Foundation, 1330 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309. http://www.arthritis.org

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"Fibromyalgia." Complete Human Diseases and Conditions. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3497700162.html

"Fibromyalgia." Complete Human Diseases and Conditions. 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3497700162.html

fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia (fy-broh-my-al-jiă) n. a disorder characterized by pain in the fibrous tissue components of muscles without any inflammation (compare fibromyositis). Widespread aching and stiffness are accompanied by extreme fatigue and often associated with headache and various other symptoms. Fibromyalgia is frequently triggered by anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, and straining or overuse of muscles; it appears to be closely related to CFS/ME/PVF.

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"fibromyalgia." A Dictionary of Nursing. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"fibromyalgia." A Dictionary of Nursing. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O62-fibromyalgia.html

"fibromyalgia." A Dictionary of Nursing. 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O62-fibromyalgia.html

fibromyalgia

fi·bro·my·al·gia / ˌfībrōmīˈalj(ē)ə/ • n. a chronic disorder characterized by musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas.

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"fibromyalgia." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"fibromyalgia." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. 2009. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O999-fibromyalgia.html

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