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Definition of «Fibromyalgia»

Fibromyalgia: A syndrome characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness of muscles, tendons, and joints without detectable inflammation. Fibromyalgia does not cause body damage or deformity. However, undue fatigue plagues the large majority of patients with fibromyalgia and sleep disorders are common in fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is considered an arthritis-related condition. However,it is not a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) since it does not cause inflammation in the joints, muscles, or other tissues or damage them. But fibromyalgia can (like arthritis) cause significant pain and fatigue and it can similarly interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities.

Irritable bowel syndrome may occur with fibromyalgia. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may include headaches, painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling of the extremities, restless legs, temperature sensitivity, and cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as "fibro fog").

Fibromyalgia tends to affect women. Only 10 to 20% of people with fibromyalgia are men. the diagnosis of fibromylgia in both women and men is usually made during middle age, although the symptoms may be present earlier in life. People with certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) are more likely to also have fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is not always easy to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic those of other disorders, there are no visible signs of the disorder that a physician can see and there is no definitive laboratory test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is a clinical diagnosis. It is based on a history of chronic widespread pain that persists for more than 3 months in combination with tenderness in at least 11 of 18 specific tender point sites.

Treatment is most effective when it incorporates combinations of education, stress reduction, exercise, and medication. The physician, physical therapist, and patient may all play an active role in the management of fibromyalgia. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise, such as swimming and walking, improves muscle fitness and reduces muscle pain and tenderness. Heat and massage may also give short-term relief. Patients with fibromyalgia may benefit from a combination of exercise, medication, physical therapy, and relaxation.

Antidepressant medications may help elevate mood, improve quality of sleep, and relax muscles. The drug Cymbalta (duloxetine) has been reported to be an effective and safe treatment for many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, particularly in women. Cymbalta targets two chemical messengers in the body, serotonin and norepinephrine, believed to play a role in both depression and pain perception.

The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro-) and the Greek ones for muscle (-myo-) and pain (-algia). It is also known as fibrositis.

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