Fibromyalgia Symptoms, Causes , Diagnosis and Unknown Facts
Fibromyalgia is a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

What is Fibromyalgia ?

Fibromyalgia is chronic neurological disorder that involves widespread pain, tenderness, fatigue, and other symptoms. It is common in middle-aged women but can affect patients of either sex and at any age. 2-4 percent of people may be affected by fibromyalgia. The term fibromyalgia means pain in muscles and fibrous tissues (tendons and ligaments).

Fibromyalgia is still considered a medically benign disorder, as it does not cause any serious problem or physical deformities, or loss of life. But it has a profound effect on the quality of life of the patient because it interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities and affects cognitive functioning such as the ability to think, to reason, to remember. The diagnosis can be made with careful examination and exclusion of other diseases having similar symptoms.

There is no cure for the fibromyalgia; support from health professionals can provide positive effects on patients’ quality of life. Health services (general practitioners, specialists, public health facilities, medical insurance companies) can play a key role in helping patients come to terms with the disease; and for that, it is important that all professionals involved in managing fibromyalgia to have specific knoweldge about the disease.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome combined with several signs and symptoms that includes:

Pain: There are widespread different types of pain in body which are not consistent and may vary in severity and location. There are days when person may not feel pain at all.

Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often feel tired; even after awakening from long duration of sleep. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Cognitive difficulties: Cognitive difficulties that can occur with fibromyalgia are commonly termed as "fibro fog". It can manifest in different ways such as:

  • short term memory loss
  • forgetting plans
  • misplacing objects
  • becoming easily distracted
  • difficulty carrying conversations
  • inability to remember new information

Sometimes difficulty of mental alertness can be more devastating than the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Some patients also may have:

  • depression or anxiety
  • migraine or tension headaches
  • digestive problems: irritable bowel syndrome
  • gastro-esophageal reflux disease
  • irritable or overactive bladder
  • pelvic pain
  • Temporomandibular disorder


Tender points- There are certain points which are tender (pain with pressure).The fibromyalgia tender points are symmetrical; they are present on both sides of the body. These tender points are very small. All of them are around joints, (but fibromyalgia pain has nothing to do with the joints themselves).

The tender point locations are:

  • Front lower sides of neck
  • Upper chest
  • Inner elbows
  • Just above inner knees
  • Back of your head
  • Top of the shoulders
  • Upper back (at shoulder blades)
  • Upper buttock
  • Hips

Fibromyalgia Causes

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not clear. It is not an autoimmune, inflammatory, joint, or muscle disorder; though some factors such as spine problem, arthritis, injury, or other type of physical stress even emotional stress may trigger this illness.

More recently, fibromyalgia has been described as ‘central pain amplification disorder’, meaning the volume of pain sensation in the brain is turned up too high. There is abnormal pain processing particularly in the central nervous system rather than from dysfunction in peripheral tissues where pain is perceived. There is a change in the way the body communicates with the spinal cord and brain.

Though genes alone do not cause fibromyalgia, but there may be certain genes that can make people more prone to getting fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia may run in families.

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

There is no diagnostic test for fibromyalgia; therefore disease is diagnosed by examining the patient, evaluating symptoms, and ruling out other conditions. There are some conditions that can be confused with fibromyalgia such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyalgia rheumatica and other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Physical findings and blood tests will help the medical expert to differentiate these diseases.

A fibromyalgia diagnosis is often made when a patient has unexplained pain for at least 3 months; and at least 11 of 18 tender points in specific locations are tender (even light pressure can cause pain) (though the presence of tender points is not specific reason for making diagnosis); and no other health problem is detected that could explain the pain and other symptoms.

These tender points should not be confused with trigger points, which are associated with chronic myofascial pain. The primary difference between tender points and trigger points is that trigger points can produce referred pain (they can cause pain in other parts of the body).

When doctor tests tender points for pain, other non-tender places on body called control points are also tested to make sure the reaction of a person about tenderness. 

Fibromyalgia Prevention

A number of things that make symptoms worse can be avoided such as

  • Anxiety ,depression
  • Changes in weather (cold and humidity)
  • Fatigue, physical exhaustion
  • Hormonal changes(premenstrual syndrome)
  • Infections
  • Lack of sleep
  • Emotional stress
  • Not moving enough