The Fibromyalgia Resource Page
During the past several decades, awareness of the disease fibromyalgia has increased the number of people diagnosed with it and has led to a greater sensitivity on the part of the general population for those who suffer from chronic pain. In many ways, fibromyalgia remains a mystery, but knowledge about the disease has advanced to the point that effective treatments are becoming more and more available.
Facts and History
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that afflicts mostly women and causes muscle pain and tenderness throughout the entire body for roughly two percent of the U.S. population. It is related to but different from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and, like CFS, it usually results in widespread fatigue and the inability to sleep soundly through the night. The pain can vary in its intensity and duration and it can move to different points through the body. Actually, localized pain like migraine headaches is typical for patients suffering from fibromyalgia, and it is not uncommon for those who suffer from the disease also to face depression and anxiety. Rheumatologists are the medical specialists that are called upon to diagnose and treat fibromyalgia.
Doctors throughout history have recorded the spectrum of symptoms that together indicate the presence of fibromyalgia. Some would go back to the ancient world to find the earliest description of the disease, but it was not until 1816 that a surgeon at the University of Edinburgh, William Balfour, gave the very first complete description of fibromyalgia, though not the name. He later identified the tender points on the human body that are tested to diagnose the disease. For most of the twentieth century, doctors used the name fibrositis to describe the condition now known as fibromyalgia. The name fibrositis was changed to fibromyalgia in 1976 when it was discovered that there was no inflammation in the tender points associated with disease, and 1987 marked the first time fibromyalgia was recognized as a real condition by the American Medical Association. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published the first diagnostic criteria for the disease, and in 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lyrica, the first drug specifically used for treating the condition.
American College of Rheumatology: Fibromyalgia — Statistics and other facts on fibromyalgia can be found on this page from the American College of Rheumatology.
American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association — The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association provides funding for research into fibromyalgia treatments and causes.
The Facts About Fibromyalgia — Some facts and other information about fibromyalgia can be found on this site from the Cleveland Clinic.
Health Central: History of Fibromyalgia — A more extensive history of fibromyalgia with a timeline of its discovery is found on this page.
History of Fibromyalgia — On this page, users can find a very brief history of the discovery and identification of fibromyalgia.
Juvenile Primary Fibromyalgia Syndrome — Cincinnati Children’s Hospital provides some information on the form of fibromyalgia that can be found in children.
National Fibromyalgia Association — This homepage for the National Fibromyalgia Association offers many facts and other information about the disease.
National Fibromyalgia Partnership — Here is another site dedicated to informing people about fibromyalgia.
Even though fibromyalgia has been identified as a legitimate disease, doctors still cannot determine for certain that which causes fibromyalgia. Currently, it is believed that fibromyalgia stems from nerve impulse miscommunication, with neurons that carry pain sensation to the brain becoming overstimulated and more sensitive to hurts and pains. Research has shown that a variety of things may cause this heightened sensitivity, including emotional stress, whiplash injuries and other physical traumas, and sleep disorders. There are also many who believe that certain pesticides and other chemicals may be at the root of fibromyalgia.
About CFS and Fibromyalgia — Updates 5–7 are especially pertinent to the question of what causes fibromyalgia.
Causes and Treatment of Fibromyalgia — This is a rather thorough page on the potential causes of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Causes — This page from the University of Maryland Medical System discusses the suggested causes of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Causes and Effects — The University of Washington hosts this brief page on possible causes of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Diagnosis and Causes — This brief article lists several potential causes for fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia: What Causes It? — Many causes have been suggested for fibromyalgia, and this page looks at several of them.
Possible Causes of Fibromyalgia — Several potential causes of fibromyalgia are found on this page.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia can be a problem because many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia occur with other diseases. This means that fibromyalgia is usually identified only after all other possibilities are ruled out, and this process can take a great deal of time. Currently, women appear to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia more often than men, but that may be due more to research bias than to an increased likelihood that women will suffer from the disease.
Since 1990, Rheumatologists have followed the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia proposed by the American College of Rheumatology. Patients must have suffered from widespread pain (on both sides of the body and above and below the waist) for at least three months, and pain must also be evident in at least eleven of the eighteen tender points when digital palpation is applied. In 2010, new diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia were proposed that incorporate other key fibromyalgia symptoms and focus on the intensity of pain in addition to its presence.
Diagnosing Fibromyalgia — This page contains some good information on the various ways fibromyalgia may be diagnosed.
Diagnosing Fibromyalgia: Common Misdiagnoses — This detailed page from WebMd lists several of the potential problems in diagnosing fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria — The 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia are listed on this site.
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed? — Here is some brief diagnostic information for fibromyalgia from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
New American College of Rheumatology Criteria for Fibromyalgia — Helping Our Pain and Exhaustion, Inc., has developed this page that details the new criteria that will be used for diagnosing fibromyalgia.
New Criteria for Diagnosing Fibromyalgia — The American College of Rheumatology is suggesting some new criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia, as this press release explains.
Understand the Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Process — Diagnosing fibromyalgia can take time, and this page from the Georgia Department of Community Health explains why.
In addition to the widespread pain mentioned above, there are other symptoms that are commonly associated with fibromyalgia. Muscles in the tender points can feel like they are tight and knotted, and when they are pressed upon, the pain will increase. Extensive fatigue, which is also a sign of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is often present as well, as is difficulty in concentrating on information and memorizing new data. Chronic migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome often appears in those with fibromyalgia, and persons suffering from the disease often find exercise difficult, if not impossible.
About Fibromyalgia — Scroll down for information on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
CFS/Fibromyalgia Symptom Checklist — Filling out this checklist can help patients inform their doctors if they think it is possible they have fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Network: Symptoms — This is a thorough presentation of the various symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms: Chronic Headaches — Users can access a page about the kinds of headaches that may be symptomatic of fibromyalgia here.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia? — Consumer Reports answers the question posed in this link.
There is as yet no cure for fibromyalgia, but several procedures can be followed to help alleviate the painful symptoms of the disease. Ironically, low-intensity exercise can help keep fibromyalgia pain from becoming overly severe even though fibromyalgia patients can find it hard to engage in physical activity. Cutting out meats, eliminating extra salt from one’s diet, and taking vitamin supplements have also been shown to have some success in addressing fibromyalgia. A variety of alternative therapies including acupuncture have also shown some potential, as have treatments that employ certain antidepressants.
Acupuncture Improves Fibromyalgia Symptoms — This article from American Family Physician summarizes the results of a study on acupuncture and its possible role in treating fibromyalgia.
Alleviating Fibromyalgia through Diet and Exercise — Colorado State University hosts this article on how fibromyalgia can be treated through proper diet and exercise.
Flupirtine for Fibromyalgia — The drug flupirtine has shown some success in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Lifestyle Adjustments and Fibromyalgia — Here is some brief information on the link of improvement in fibromyalgia pain to exercise.
Low-Dose Naltrexone and Treatments of Fibromyalgia — This is an article on the benefits of the drug naltrexone for alleviating fibromyalgia syndromes.
Lupus and Fibromyalgia — Scroll down to learn how many of the treatments for lupus are also effective for fibromyalgia.
Standard Fibromyalgia Treatments — A practice that melds traditional and modern medicine provides an overview of the options available for treating fibromyalgia.
Symptoms and Treatment of Fibromyalgia — Some brief information on symptoms and treatment of fibromyalgia can be found on this site from the University of Michigan.
Fibromyalgia can be a painful condition, but it can be addressed effectively when patients understand the causes and treatments for the disease. Becoming more educated about the disease is the first step toward combating it. Those who learn about the various aspects of the disease will be better equipped to help themselves if they have fibromyalgia and friends and family who must suffer the disease as well.