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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain brain chemicals and changes in the way your brain, spinal cord and nerves processes pain messages carried around the body.
Although it is not known why people develop fibromyalgia, it is thought that it may inherited, be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, or occur in people suffering from depression, anxiety or stress-related disorders.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • A long-term condition causing pain all over your body
  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Muscle stiffness and trigger points
  • Sleeping problems
  • Headaches and joint stiffness
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Allodynia (a heightened and painful response to pressure)

Description

Fibromyalgia is thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain brain chemicals and changes in the way your brain, spinal cord and nerves processes pain messages carried around the body.

Although it is not known why people develop fibromyalgia, it is thought that it may inherited, be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event,or occur in people suffering from depression, anxiety or stress-relateddisorders.


Fibromyalgia affects around seven times as many women as men. It usually begins between 30 and 50 years old, but can affect people of all ages.

In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology approved a new way to assess fibromyalgia. This counts up to 19 general body areas where the person has experienced pain in the prior two weeks and rates these together with the severity of other symptoms such as fatigue, for an overall score ranging from 0 to 12.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia can often be confused with other conditions, such as widespread myofascial pain and trigger points.

Advice & Treatment

Treatment is to help relieve the symptoms to make it easier to live with. This includes:

  • Medication – antidepressants and painkillers help to change the balance of chemicals in your brain
  • Talking therapies – counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Lifestyle changes – reducing stress, using relaxation techniques
  • Exercise can improve the condition of your muscles, soft tissues and joints which can help to reduce pain
  • Massage therapy – to improve your circulation, loosen your fascia (the soft tissue which connects your muscles and bones) and ease your trigger points
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