What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:
- increased sensitivity to pain
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- muscle stiffness
- difficulty sleeping
- problems with mental processes (known as fibro fog) such as problems with memory and concentration
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
Can it be treated?
You can’t get rid of it, but fibromyalgia can be treated. Treatment varies for each person but usually includes a combination of:
- medicine, such as antidepressants and painkillers
- talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling
- lifestyle changes, such as exercise programmes and relaxation techniques.
Exercise in particular has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including helping to reduce pain.
What causes fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in your brain and changes in the way your central nervous system processes pain messages carried around your body.
It's been suggested that it is more likely to be developed because of genes inherited from your parents.
In many cases, the condition appears to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, such as:
- an injury or infection
- giving birth
- having an operation
- the breakdown of a relationship
- the death of a loved one
Who can be affected by fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia affects around 7 times as many women as men.
The condition typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly.
Many people with fibromyalgia find that support groups provide an important network where they can talk to others living with the condition.
Fibromyalgia Action UK is a charity that offers information and support to people with fibromyalgia.