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Definition of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a progressive chronic pain related illness which is characterized by prevalent musculoskeletal pain, aches, stiffness, general fatigue, soft tissue tenderness and sleep disturbances. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that causes the fatigue and augmented musculoskeletal pain all over the body. It attacks women more than men and mostly those women who are of childbearing age. Fibromyalgia is a tricky, frustrating condition. It claims victims through a variety of symptoms.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a human disorder classified by the presence of chronic widespread pain and tactile allodynia. While the criteria for such an entity have not yet been thoroughly developed, the recognition that fibromyalgia involves more than just pain has led to the frequent use of the term "fibromyalgia syndrome". It is not contagious, and recent studies suggest that people with fibromyalgia may be genetically predisposed. The disorder is not considered directly life-threatening. The degree of symptoms may vary greatly from day to day with periods of flares (severe worsening of symptoms) or remission; however, the disorder is generally perceived as non-progressive.

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The defining symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic, widespread pain and tenderness to light touch. Other symptoms can include moderate to severe fatigue, a heightened and painful response to gentle touch (allodynia), needle-like tingling of the skin, muscle aches, prolonged muscle spasms, weakness in the limbs, nerve pain, functional bowel disturbances, and chronic sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances may be related to a phenomenon called alpha-delta sleep, a condition in which deep sleep (associated with delta waves) is frequently interrupted by bursts of alpha waves, which normally occur during wakefulness. Slow-wave sleep is often dramatically reduced.

Many patients experience cognitive dysfunction (known as "brain fog" or "fibrofog"), which may be characterized by impaired concentration, problems with short and long-term memory, short-term memory consolidation, genitourinary symptoms and interstitial cystitis, dermatological disorders, headaches, myoclonic twitches, and symptomatic hypoglycemia. Although fibromyalgia is classified based on the presence of chronic widespread pain, pain may also be localized in areas such as the shoulders, neck, low back, hips, or other areas. Many sufferers also experience varying degrees of facial pain and have high rates of comorbid temporomandibular joint disorder.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Symptoms can have a slow onset, and many patients have mild symptoms beginning in childhood, that are often misdiagnosed as growing pains. Symptoms are said to be aggravated by unrelated illness or changes in the weather. They can become more tolerable or less tolerable throughout daily or yearly cycles; however, many people with fibromyalgia find that, at least some of the time, the condition prevents them from performing normal activities such as driving a car or walking up stairs.

The most basic symptoms of Fibromyalgia syndrome are severe fatigue, widespread musculoskeletal pain and disturbed sleep. Fibromyalgia implies pain in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The pain can be anywhere in the soft fibrous tissues of the body. Patients with Fibromyalgia often complain about pain all over the body and most of the time their muscles and ligaments feel stressed out and over worked. Occasionally Fibromyalgia symptoms involve burning sensations and muscle twitches too. Some of the common symptoms of Fibromyalgia include -

  • Insomnia or waking up in the middle of the sleep feeling very tired and fatigued.
  • Chronic muscle pain, leg cramps and muscle spasms or stiffness.
  • Feeling the stiffness upon staying in one posture for too long or after waking up.
  • Reasonable or severe fatigue and decrease in energy.
  • Tension and migraine headaches
  • Facing difficulty in concentrating, remembering and performing easy mental tasks.
  • Numbness or tickly feeling in the face, hands, arms, legs and feet
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Decreased tolerance for exercise and continuing muscle pain after exercise
  • Feeling anxious and depressed
  • Feeling extremely sensitive towards noise, odors, bright lights, certain foods, and medications and cold.

Most people suffering from Fibromyalgia declare that some amount of pain is always present in their body and thus fatigue becomes evident. Almost ninety percent patient suffering from Fibromyalgia suffers from moderate or excessive fatigue and sometimes the fatigue becomes more of a problem and more troubling than the muscle pain. Like Fatigue the level pf pain also varies from moderate to severity. But in order to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a patient must suffer pain in at least eleven of total eighteen tender points.

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