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What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a form of generalized muscular pain and fatigue. The pain occurs in the muscles and fibrous connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) affecting approximately 5 million people in the U.S.

The name "fibromyalgia" replaces the term "fibrositis." Rather than arthritis of a joint, fibromyalgia affects the muscles and has been described as muscular rheumatism. Since it affects the attachments to bones it can sometimes feel like bone pain.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia:

· Pain in certain areas or generalized pain. Certain painful
areas called "tender points," include pain in shoulders, front and back of neck, lower back, hips, mid arm, and knees.
· Fatigue
· Nervous system symptoms
1) Many individuals are depressed.
2) Some feel anxiety.
3) Difficulty concentrating on simple mental tasks.
4) Numbness and tingling in hands, arms, legs, and feet.
· Insomnia.
· Headaches - migraines are common.
· Abdominal pain, or bloating.
· Bladder spasms.

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed by the presence of pain at the tender points. So far, no laboratory test has been established to make a diagnosis. Most doctors are unable to determine if a patient has the condition or not so a rheumatologist is recommended.

· Medications to decrease pain, improve sleep and relax muscles. Anti-inflammatory drugs also help reduce muscle pain.
· Mild exercises.
· Education on the latest treatment.
· Proper diet - plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
· Know your limit. Don't over work your muscles, such as gardening projects and other household jobs.

Fibromyalgia never goes away but waxes and wanes. There are days when it eases up a bit, and then there are days when the pain increases. With proper treatment this condition can be kept under control.

For more information you may contact:
Arthritis Foundation
P.O. Box 19000
Atlanta, Georgia 30326