Fibromyalgia (FM) is a commonly misunderstood, sometimes misdiagnosed rheumatic disease. The main symptoms are achiness, pain (more in the muscles than in the joints), stiffness, fatigue, accompanied by headaches, depression, sleep disorders, Raynaud's and irritable bowel syndrome. The sites of pain are located in specific areas called tender or trigger points.
The painful tender points are located where the ligament attaches the muscle to the bone. There are 18 tender point locations. Sensitivity at 11 points defines a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. FM is not life threatening nor does it cause physical deformities. Many lab tests are within normal range. In fact, most patients look extremely well and fit, making it difficult to account for the degree of clinical suffering they are experiencing, yet 10-30% of fibromyalgia patients are disabled to some degree because of their disease symptoms.
It is 9 times more common among women than men, usually between the ages of 40 and 60, is more common in Caucasians than other races, and is the second or third most common disorder treated by rheumatologists.
As is the case of most forms of "arthritis," no known cause has been established, but a number of possibilities are mentioned in the medical literature. Like many forms of arthritis, the cause of FM is probably not limited to one single factor.
1. 55% of patients identify a "flu-like" or viral type illness,
2. 33% physical trauma/injury and
3. 14% emotional stress as a precursor to the onset of symptoms.