Fibromyalgia, a condition that affects as many as 1 in every 50 people, is characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. While the exact cause or causes of this condition are unknown, many researchers currently believe that the cause centers around possible problems with how the central nervous system processes pain. Treatment options for fibromyalgia may include lifestyle changes, medications, and complementary or alternative treatments.
What Is Fibromyalgia?Fibromyalgia is a common and chronic condition 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).
Who Is Affected by Fibromyalgia?Fibromyalgia affects 3 million to 6 million people, or as many as 1 in every 50 Americans. For unknown reasons, between 80 percent and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women; however, men and children can also have this disorder. Most people are diagnosed with fibromyalgia during middle age.
People with certain other conditions may be more likely to have fibromyalgia. These other conditions may include diseases such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus)
- Ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis).
Women who have a family member with fibromyalgia may be more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves. Other risk factors for fibromyalgia can include:
- Being exposed to physically or emotionally stressful or traumatic events, such as a car accident, surgery, or being deployed to war.
- Having injuries to the body caused by performing the same action over and over again.