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Also called: Fibro, FMS
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Fibromyalgia is chronic (long-lasting) condition that causes pain all over the body, fatigue, and other symptoms. There is no cure, but treatments can help with the symptoms.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Studies of the brains of people with fibromyalgia found that they seem to process pain differently than people who don't have it. They may feel pain when others do not, and they may also have a more severe reaction to pain.

Fibromyalgia can run in families, so genetics may also play a role. Other factors may also be involved, such as having certain diseases that cause pain.

Who is at risk for fibromyalgia?

Anyone can get fibromyalgia, but it is more common in:

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are:

  • Chronic (long-lasting) pain and stiffness all over the body. People often describe it as aching, burning, or throbbing.
  • Fatigue and tiredness.
  • Trouble sleeping.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Problems with thinking, memory, and concentration (sometimes called "fibro fog")
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, odors, and temperature

People who have fibromyalgia are also more likely to have certain diseases, including:

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

Fibromyalgia can be hard to diagnose. It sometimes takes visits to several different health care providers to get a diagnosis. One problem is that there isn't a specific test for it. And the main symptoms, pain and fatigue, are common in many other conditions. Providers have to rule out other causes of the symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This is called making a differential diagnosis.

To find out if you have fibromyalgia, your provider:

  • Will take your medical history, including asking detailed questions about your symptoms
  • Will do a physical exam
  • May order x-rays and blood tests to rule out other conditions

What are the treatments for fibromyalgia?

Not all providers are familiar with fibromyalgia and its treatment. You should see a provider or team of providers who specialize in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, so treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms. Providers usually use a combination of treatments, including medicines, lifestyle changes, talk therapy, and complementary therapies:

  • Medicines
  • Lifestyle changes
    • Getting enough sleep.
    • Getting regular physical activity. If you have not already been active, start slowly and gradually increase how much activity you get. You may want to see a physical therapist, who can help you create a plan that is right for you.
    • Learning how to manage stress.
    • Learning to pace yourself. If you do too much, it can make your symptoms worse. So you need to learn to balance being active with your need for rest.
  • Talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you learn strategies to deal with pain, stress, and negative thoughts. If you also have depression along with your fibromyalgia, talk therapy can help with that too.
  • Complementary therapies have helped some people with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. But researchers need to do more studies to show which ones are effective. You could consider trying them, but you should check with your provider first. These therapies include:
    • Mindfulness meditation.
    • Biofeedback, which uses electronic devices to measure body functions such as breathing and heart rate. This teaches you to be more aware of your body functions so you can learn to control them.
    • Movement therapies such as yoga and tai chi.
    • Massage therapy.
    • Acupuncture.

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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.