By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that spares the joints but may affect the whole body. There is presence of multiple painful areas, so-called tender points all over the body.
As of now its cause is unknown and symptoms tend to vary in different patients. It is thus that the condition is termed a syndrome instead of a disease. It is called fibromyalgia syndrome.
Who does fibromyalgia affect?
Fibromyalgia affects 2 to 7% of the world population and is 7 to 90 times more prevalent among women.
The condition more commonly affects persons between the ages of 45 and 60 but may occur at any age.
Although uncommon, the syndrome also affects children and adolescents.
Main symptoms of fibromyalgia
There are several associated symptoms that include fatigue, lack of refreshing sleep, cognitive impairments, abdominal discomfort, irritable bowel syndrome and headache.
Fibromyalgia and temporomandibular disorder
One of the lesser known associated symptoms of fibromyalgia is temporomandibular disorder. Temporomandibular disorder is defined as a condition that that comprises of various alterations and changes in the muscles of chewing and the temporomandibular joints along with their associated structures.
The main symptoms of temporomandibular disorder include tenderness or pain on palpation over the joint and the muscles of chewing, change of the jaw movements along with pain.
Symptoms of temporomandibular disorder may be seen at all ages. The symptoms and their severity however vary according to the subjects’ age and may increase after puberty with maximum severity between 20 and 40 years of age.
The symptoms are mildest among children, adolescents, and elderly. Similar to fibromyalgia, the prevalence of temporomandibular disorder shows more prevalence among females than males. Women are three times more affected than men.
Association of temporomandibular disorder and fibromyalgia
The association of temporomandibular disorder and fibromyalgia rests on two basic principles. These include:-
Sine pain perception and pain sensitivity is raised in fibromyalgia; there may be aggravation and development of temporomandibular disorder. This means fibromyalgia is the predominant problem predisposing to temporomandibular disorder. The pain in fibromyalgia may be leading to psychological distress and increased health care visits leading to aggravation of the temporomandibular disorder.
Both temporomandibular disorder and fibromyalgia are found to have similar pathophysiological changes and similar psychological features. Both may be thus part of the same mental health disorder.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Jul 31, 2013