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Fibromyaligia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. “Tender points” being tenderness pain which occurs in precise areas, most commonly located in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. Most people that have this syndrome may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel, and anxiety.

Many people suffer from this syndrome and it can be quite painful. Fibromyaligia affects 3 to 6 million Americans. Most cases occur in women that are childbearing age, but children, the elderly, and men can also be affected by this.

The cause of Fibromyaligia is unknown, but researchers have several theories about the causes and triggers of this disease. Most believe that a major trauma to the body causes this pain. Something traumatic such as a car accident or loss of a limb. This may also be associated with changes in the muscle metabolism such as decreased blood flow and decreased strength. Yet others believe that an infectious agent such as a virus in susceptible people, still no such agent has been found to determine that for sure.

Fibromyaligia is very difficult to diagnose. Typical diagnosis is to look at the history and see how the pain progresses over time. If pain persists for more than 3 months and it is chronic widespread pain, this would be the common diagnosis. The American College of Rheumatology considers people to have Fibromyaligia if they have widespread pain with a combination of tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points.

The treatment of Fibromyaligia requires many things. The physician, physical therapist and patient all play an active role in pain management. Aerobic exercise, such as swimming and walking improve muscle fitness and reduces pain and tenderness in the muscles as well as the joints. Heat and massage therapy may also give some short term relief. Antidepressant medications may help elevate mood, improve quality of sleep, and it may relax the muscles. The best combination to fight off the pain would be exercise, medication, physical therapy, and relaxation!