Overview

Starting in the early 1800s, physicians have recognized a condition characterized by widespread pain, stiff muscles, profound fatigue and disturbed sleep, which they called “muscular rheumatism”, fibromyositis, or fibrositis. Now known as fibromyalgia, this chronic condition affects up to six percent of the population. The vast majority of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women, but men and children can also have the illness.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.