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 ones 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 feel pain in response to slight pressure. Although Fibromyalgia 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. Like arthritis, however, Fibromyalgia can cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities. Also like arthritis, Fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatic condition.
Fibromyalgia affects over 10 million Americans. For unknown reasons, between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia are women; however, men and children also can be affected. Most people are diagnosed during middle age, although the symptoms often become present earlier in life. People with certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus), or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) may be more likely to have Fibromyalgia, too.