Fibromyalgia syndrome usually consists of widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points on the body. While there is no specific, identifiable cause of fibromyalgia, certain factors -- such as being female or having a family history of the condition -- put you at a higher risk of developing it. Fibromyalgia is often considered an arthritis-related condition. But because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues, it is not truly a form of arthritis.
Fibromyalgia syndrome (also known as FMS or just fibromyalgia) is a syndrome, rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a common and chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek terms for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Tender points are specific places on the body -- on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and upper and lower extremities -- where people with fibromyalgia syndrome feel pain in response to slight pressure.
Although fibromyalgia syndrome is often considered an arthritis-related condition, it is not truly a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints, muscles, or other tissues. However, like arthritis, fibromyalgia syndrome can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person's ability to carry out daily activities. Also, like arthritis, fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition.
You may wonder what exactly rheumatic means. Even healthcare providers do not always agree on whether a disease is considered rheumatic. If you look up the word in the dictionary, you'll find it comes from the Greek word rheum, which means flux -- not an explanation that gives you a better understanding. In medicine, however, the term rheumatic means a medical condition that impairs the joints and/or soft tissues and causes chronic pain.