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 arthritisrelated 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.
You may wonder what exactly rheumatic means. Even physicians 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.
In addition to pain and fatigue, people who have fibromyalgia may experience
- sleep disturbances,
- morning stiffness,
- irritable bowel syndrome,
- painful menstrual periods,
- numbness or tingling of the extremities,
- restless legs syndrome,
- temperature sensitivity,
- cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as "fibro fog"), or
- a variety of other symptoms.
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. Related Articles