Pathology

Fibromyalgia Defined



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Do you have chronic muscle tenderness unrelieved by common over-the-counter medications? Do you have soreness and sensitivity similar to flu achiness,or skin that is sensitive to even light pressure? Do you have pain in your upper and lower body regions? Do you have difficulty sleeping and wake up with brain fog? If so, you may have fibromyalgia.

The term fibromyalgia comes from Latin and means fibrous muscle pain. Although not contagious or life-threatening, FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) can be quite debilitating.
It is estimated that about 2% of the general population suffers from FMS. Women at the ratio of 9:1 are more likely to have it than men. Usually it presents during the ages of 20 years to 50. But children have been diagnosed with FMS as well. This common cause of widespread pain affects the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, but not the joints. Those suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome may have frequent headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and suffer from depression. In 1987 the American Medical Association recognized it as an illness and cause of disability.

The American College of Rheumatology has developed the tender point exam to use in diagnosing fibromyalgia. The following criteria is used to determine a positive finding:
-A history of widespread pain persisting for at least 3 months

-Pain above and below the waist

-Pain in at least 11 of 18 "tender point" sites when light pressure is applied to the area

A body map is used to determine which sites have tenderness. The doctor applies light pressure to various sites such as the neck, shoulders, arms, hips, and various parts of the back. This test, along with a patient history, will help the doctor to diagnose the problem. Fibromyalgia presents with symptoms similar to those of many other illnesses and cannot be diagnosed with lab tests or x-rays.

That is the scienfific definition. But the meaningful definition of fibromyalgia comes from those who struggle with it day after day. The chronic condition of it causes difficulty in doing even simple day to day tasks such as walking up the stairs or taking the dog for a walk.
It may cause decreased ability to focus and concentrate on a task. It interferes with a person's ability to have a social life and may impair relationships. Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer from depression.

There is hope on the horizon with research and new effective drug treatments. For additional information, call the National Fibromyalgia Association at 714-921-0150.

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