Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes immense physical pain and debilitating fatigue. Classified as a syndrome, fibromyalgia is not a disease. Instead it is a condition that causes many different symptoms. These symptoms affect all systems in the body. Fibromyalgia plagues up to 5% of the population, with 6 million sufferers in the United States alone. The name fibromyalgia comes from \"fibro\" meaning fibrous tissue (such as tendons and ligaments), \"my\" meaning muscles, and \"algia\" meaning pain.
The Pain of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia\'s main symptom is widespread musculoskeletal pain. This pain affects the ligaments, tendons, and muscles throughout the body. Ligaments are made of tough tissues which attach to the bones in your body. Tendons help to attach muscles to your bones. Muscles allow you to stretch and flex various body parts.
Fibromyalgia patients often feel like they are aching all over; muscles feel sore, stiff, and overworked. Muscle twitches are also common in fibromyalgia, adding to the pain of the illness. Sometimes muscles can even feel like they are burning.
A Chronic Disorder
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder, which means that it is a condition that is persistent and long-lasting. The term is usually used in cases where the illness lasts for more than three months. Most people who suffer with FM will tell you that the pain they endure has gone on for months and often years.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia treatment is often difficult to come by and many people suffer in silence. However, fibromyalgia pain generally does not worsen over time, and it doesn\'t cause inflammation of the internal organs or muscles.
Many Other Symptoms
Although pain is the foremost symptom of fibromyalgia, it is by no means the only symptom. Among other symptoms, fibromyalgia sufferers often experience:
- sleep disorders
- morning stiffness
- irritable bowel syndrome
Fibromyalgia syndrome has many sufferers of all ages and backgrounds. Fibromyalgia does affect women more than men, especially during the childbearing years. More than 80% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women, however, some men do have the condition. What has become alarming is that small children are also affected with a condition called Juvenile or Pediatric Fibromyalgia. While diagnosing FM in children is much more difficult than diagnosing and adult, since the symptoms appear very gradually and children tend to be inconsistent in describing their symptoms - nevertheless, the pain and challenges are not unlike adult symptoms. On the other end of the spectrum, seniors have the added challenge of FM pain to add to their existing health issues. Since they are probably already dealing with some conditions that appear similar, diagnosing FM in seniors can be a lengthy process.