Printer Friendly

Fibromyalgia; Overview.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain and reduced pressure pain threshold (tender points) People with fibromyalgia may also experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, increased headaches or facial pain, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and problems multitasking. Patients with fibromyalgia frequently report functional impairment and diminished quality of life.

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but recent evidence suggests that fibromyalgia is associated with abnormalities in the central nervous system processing of pain. Fibromyalgia patients develop an increased response to painful stimuli and experience pain from non-painful stimuli such as touch. This is thought to be reflective of enhanced pain processing that is characteristic of central pain sensitization. Patients with fibromyalgia have been found to have elevated levels of substance P in their spinal fluid, a chemical that helps transmit pain signals from the brain. Scientists are currently investigating how the brain and spinal cord process pain and how substance P and other neurotransmitters fit into the process. Recent studies have also found that fibromyalgia runs in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the disorder.

Diagnosing fibromyalgia has been controversial because there are no specific laboratory tests to identify the disorder. Until recently, many health care professionals thought fibromyalgia was primarily caused by psychological factors. In recent years, however, health care professionals have come to understand that psychological factors do not necessarily cause fibromyalgia but rather may contribute to an increased risk for disability associated with fibromyalgia. Furthermore depression and anxiety disorders may actually share some of the pathophysiological mechanisms that are associated with fibromyalgia.

It is estimated that 2 percent of the U.S. adult population has fibromyalgia. This condition occurs more commonly in women of childbearing age (as many as 80 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women), but children, postmenopausal women, the elderly and men can be affected.

The severity of fibromyalgia symptoms varies. For some women, pain or other symptoms can be so intense that they interfere with daily activities. For others, symptoms may cause discomfort but are not incapacitating. However, the condition is quite disabling in many people. In the 2006 annual Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Survey from the Fibromyalgia & Fatigue Centers, Inc., 70 percent of those surveyed rated their quality of life as "poor," "very poor" or "awful."

Treating fibromyalgia requires a comprehensive approach encompassing symptom management and lifestyle adaptation. It also requires a team approach between health care professionals including physicians, physical therapists and cognitive therapists, as well as the patient.


"Patient information: Fibromyalgia." Updated December 2006. Accessed July 2007.

"Fibromyalgia." The Mayo Clinic. Updated June 2007. Accessed July 2007.

"Fibromyalgia." The American College of Rheumatology. Accessed July 2007.

"Fibromyalgia: What it is and how to manage it." Accessed July 2007.

"The 2006 Annual Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Survey." Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, Inc.

"Fibromyalgia." U.S. News and World Report from a white paper published by Johns Hopkins.

"FDA Issues Public Health Advisory on Vioxx as its Manufacturer Voluntarily Withdraws Its Product." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed October 1, 2004.

"About Fibromyalgia: What Causes Fibromyalgia?" National Fibromyalgia Association. Accessed June 11, 2004.

"About Fibromyalgia: How is Fibromyalgia Treated?" National Fibromyalgia Association. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Clinical Trials in Fibromyalgia. National Library of Medicine. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Fibromyalgia." The National Women's Health Information Center. Accessed June 11, 2004.

"Questions and Answers About Fibromyalgia." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Published Dec. 1999. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Cote, K. Harvey M. "Sleep, Daytime Symptoms and Cognitive Performance in Patients with Fibromyalgia. Journal of Rheumatology. 1997: 24:2014-23.

Moldofsky, H. "Fibromyalgia: An Enigmatic Illness and Its Management." Canadian Journal of Diagnosis. Oct. 1999. 73-80.

Pimentel, M. Hallegua, D. Lin, HC. et al. "Improvement in Fibromyalgia with Treatment of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): A Double Blind Randomized Study." Arthritis & Rheumatism. 42:S343, 1999. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Fibromyalgia. FibroFree Fibromyalgia Recovery Program. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Yunus, M. "Fibromyalgia and overlapping syndromes." Fibromyalgia Network. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Chang, L. "The Association of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and Fibromyalgia." European Journal of Surgery; 1998; Supplement 583: 32-36.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain. Excerpted from "Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Survival Guide" by DJ Starlanyl and ME Copeland. Revised April 7, 2004. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Burckhardt C. "How Pain Affects the Mind." Presentation at FAME 2000 International Fibromyalgia Conference, 5/20/99-5/21/00. Universal City, Calif.

Jasmin L. "FMS: A CNS Disease." Fibromyalgia Network (newsletter). April 21, 2000.

Engstrom D. "Biofeedback" Presentation at FAME 2000 International Fibromyalgia Conference, 5/20/99-5/21/00. Universal City, Calif.

Engstom D. "Coping with Emotions: The Role of the Psychologist/Psychiatrist." Presentation at FAME 2000 International Fibromyalgia Conference, 5/20/99-5/21/00. Universal City, Calif.

Moldofsky H. "Sleep, neuroimmune and neuroendocrine functions in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome." Advances in Neruoimmunology. Vol. 5. 1995. 39-56.

Pillemer S, Bradley L, Crofford L, et al. "The Neuroscience and Endocrinology of Fibromyalgia." Arthritis & Rheumatism. Nov. 1997. Vol. 40, No. 11. 1928-1939.

Bennett R. "Chronic Widespread Pain and the Fibromyalgia Construct." Pain Digest. 1999. 9:292-298.

Russell J. "Fibromyalgia Syndrome." Presentation at FAME 2000 International Fibromyalgia Conference, 5/20/99-5/21/00. Universal City, Calif.

Wallace D, Linker-Israeli M, Hallegua D, et al. "Cytokines play an etiopathogenetic role in fibromyalgia: A pilot study." Abstract 950156. Presented at the American College of Rheumatology, 64th Annual Scientific Meeting, April 30, 2000.

Hardy M. "Fibromyalgia and Integrative Medicine: Evaluation of Efficacy & Safety." Presentation at FAME 2000 International Fibromyalgia Conference, 5/20/99-5/21/00. Universal City, Calif.

"What Research Is Being Conducted on Fibromyalgia?" National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Published Dec. 1999. Accessed June 11, 2004.

"FM Monograph" National Fibromyalgia Partnership, Inc. Copyright 2004. Accessed June 11, 2004.

"Fibromyalgia Medicationst" The Arthritis Foundation. 2004. Accessed June 11, 2004.

Arnold LM. Biology and therapy of fibromyalgia. New therapies in fibromyalgia. Arthritis Research and Therapy 2006;8:212.

Arnold LM, Hudson JI, Hess EV, et al. Family study of fibromyalgia. Arthritis and Rheumatism 2004;50:944-952.

Keywords: fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia syndrome, depression, women, women with fibromyalgia, pain, widespread pain, lyme disease, growth hormone, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome
COPYRIGHT 2007 National Women's Health Resource Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Fibromyalgia
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 3, 2007
Previous Article:Fibromyalgia; Overview.
Next Article:Fibromyalgia; Diagnosis.

Related Articles
Questions and Answers About Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia; Overview.
Fibromyalgia; Facts to Know.
Fibromyalgia; Key Q&A.
Fibromyalgia; Overview.
Use multidisciplinary approach in fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia; Facts to Know.
Fibromyalgia; Key Q&A.
Don't miss the depression in fibromyalgia.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters