About 5 million people in the United States have fibromyalgia. More than 80 percent are women. Most people are diagnosed during middle age.
While fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, it is not progressive. It is never fatal, and it will not damage the joints, muscles or internal organs. In many people, the condition improves over time.
Question: My sister went through a nightmare of doctor visits before she finally found out she has fibromyalgia. Why did it take so long for her to get a correct diagnosis?
Answer: What your sister endured is common. It’s not easy to diagnose fibromyalgia with just a laboratory test. Healthcare practitioners have to rely on symptoms to make a diagnosis.
Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia:
Unfortunately, symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary, depending upon the person. To further complicate matters, fibromyalgia imitates other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek terms for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Fibromyalgia is not a disease. It’s a syndrome, which is a group of symptoms that doesn’t have a single cause. It is characterized by widespread pain, tenderness and fatigue.
Causes Of Fibromyalgia:
The causes of fibromyalgia haven’t been found. There is speculation that the syndrome may be caused by trauma or repetitive injuries. According to one theory, people with fibromyalgia may have genes that cause them to react strongly to stimuli that most people would not perceive as painful.
Lifestyle changes can also minimize the effects of fibromyalgia. Getting enough sleep, exercising and making changes at work can make a difference. For example, some people cut back on the number of hours they work or switch to a less demanding job. Working with an occupational therapist to design a more comfortable work station may also help.