Unpacking the Debilitating Condition that is Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep, mood, and memory issues. It is estimated that the condition affects about ten million people in the United States. Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Fibromyalgia is not completely understood, but it is believed that the condition causes pain as a result of the way the brain processes pain signals.


The signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia may begin after some sort of physical or psychological stress such as an infection or surgery. Other times, they may develop slowly over time without any significant physical or psychological event. Fibromyalgia may be associated with other conditions such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome, or tensions headaches. Unfortunately, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, the good news is that there are a number of options to help manage the condition such as medications or lifestyle changes.

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia include widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive issues. People often say that the pain associated with fibromyalgia feels like a constant dull ache. This lasts for at least three months. Widespread means that the pain is occurring on both sides of the body and above and below the waist. People with fibromyalgia often experience fatigue. They go to sleep and wake up feeling tired despite sleeping for a good amount of time. Sleep is usually disturbed by pain, or another condition such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea. Fibromyalgia may also cause an impaired ability to concentrate or focus on regular activities. People with fibromyalgia may also experience pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, depression, or headaches.

The risk factors that increase your risk for developing fibromyalgia include being a female, having a family history of the disorder, and having Rheumatic disease. Women are more often diagnosed with fibromyalgia than men. People who have a family history of fibromyalgia are more likely to develop the condition. Lastly, if you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may have a higher risk for developing fibromyalgia.

The treatment options for fibromyalgia include medication and therapy. Medications include pain relievers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications. Therapy can also help people cope with the stress that is often brought on by the condition.