What Causes It?
The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. In fact, there may be a number of factors involved. Most researchers currently believe that fibromyalgia centers around possible problems with how the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) processes pain. For some reason, a person with fibromyalgia reacts strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful. This amplifying of pain is generally known as "central sensitization."
Some researchers speculate that a person's genes may be involved. However, this gene (or genes) -- if it, in fact, exists -- has not been identified. Other researchers are studying the impact of certain chemicals or blood flow problems in the brain.
SymptomsThe most common symptoms in people with fibromyalgia include widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. Tender points are specific places on the body -- on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and upper and lower extremities -- where people with fibromyalgia feel pain in response to slight pressure.
People with the condition may also have other symptoms, such as:
- Trouble sleeping
- Morning stiffness
- Headaches (including migraine headaches and tension headaches)
- Painful menstrual periods
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Problems with thinking and memory (sometimes called "fibro fog")
(Click Fibromyalgia Symptoms to learn more about these symptoms, including specific tender points used to make a diagnosis.)