Fibromyalgia is a long-lasting or chronic disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue (feeling tired). If you have fibromyalgia, you have pain and tenderness throughout your body. Sometimes you may have two or more chronic pain conditions at the same time, such as:
Anyone can get this disorder, though it occurs most often in women and often starts in middle age. If you have certain other diseases, you may be more likely to have fibromyalgia. These diseases include:
If you have a family member with fibromyalgia, you may be more likely to get the disorder.
Sometimes, fibromyalgia can develop on its own. Fibromyalgia tends to run in families, and some scientists think that a gene or genes could make you more likely to develop fibromyalgia. The genes could make you react strongly to things that other people would not find painful.
Currently there aren't any laboratory tests to diagnose fibromyalgia.
You may see many doctors before receiving the diagnosis. This can happen because the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, pain and fatigue, are similar to many other conditions. Doctors often have to rule out other causes of these symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
Doctors use guidelines to help diagnose fibromyalgia, which can include:
You and your doctor can treat fibromyalgia with medicines, lifestyle changes, and complementary therapy. However, fibromyalgia can be hard to treat. It's important you find a doctor who is familiar with the disorder and its treatment.
Doctors may prescribe one or more of the following medicines to help treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Making lifestyle changes can also help you manage your fibromyalgia, including:
You can also try complementary therapies such as:
If you are using or would like to try a complementary therapy you should speak with your doctor, who may know more about if it is safe to try.
Many family physicians, general internists, or rheumatologists can treat fibromyalgia. Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in arthritis and other conditions that affect the joints or soft tissues. Not all doctors are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment, so it is important to find a doctor who is.
Fibromyalgia treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers. A pain or rheumatology clinic can be a good place to get treatment.
There are many things you can do to while living with fibromyalgia, including:
Getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep can help ease the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. You may have problems such as pain, restless legs syndrome, or brainwave changes that interfere with restful sleep. It is important to discuss any sleep problems with your doctor, who can prescribe or recommend treatment.
Although pain and fatigue may make exercise and daily activities difficult, it is important for you to be as physically active as possible. Research shows that regular exercise is one of the most useful treatments for fibromyalgia. If you have too much pain or fatigue to do exercise, you should begin with walking or other gentle exercise. Over time you can build your strength.
You can continue to work when you have fibromyalgia, but may have to make some changes to do so. For example, you may need to cut down the number of hours they work, switch to a less demanding job, or adapt your current job. An occupational therapist can help you make changes at work. For example, they can help design a more comfortable workstation or find more efficient and less painful ways to lift.
Although some people with fibromyalgia report feeling better when they eat or avoid certain foods, no specific diet has been proven to influence fibromyalgia. Of course, it is important to have a healthy, balanced diet. Not only will proper nutrition give you more energy and make you generally feel better, but it will also help you avoid other health problems.