Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by pain in the fibrous tissue components of the muscles without any inflammation.
Fibromyalgia may involve any of the fibro muscular tissues but those most commonly affected are:
- at the back of the head
- lower back (lumbago)
- neck (neck pain/spasm)
The term myalgia indicates muscular pain whereas myositis is due to inflammation of muscle tissues. In fibromyalgia, there are no specific structural changes in the tissues. The absence of cellular inflammation justifies the preferred terminology of fibromyalgia rather than the older terms of fibrositis or fibromyositis.
Fibromyalgia occurs more commonly in women and may be caused or intensified by:
- physical or emotional stress
- poor sleeping patterns
- exposure to dampness or cold
- sometimes by a rheumatic disorder or viral infection.
Men are more likely to develop localized fibromyalgia in association with a particular occupational or recreational strain.
- Include achy pain, tenderness and stiffness of muscles, areas of tendon insertion and adjacent soft tissue structures.
- The symptoms are accompanied by extreme fatigue and often associated with headache, numbness and tingling
- Onset of pain and stiffness is usually gradual, diffuse and of an achy nature.
- Pain is aggravated by strain and overuse.
- The disease may disappear spontaneously (in milder cases) with decreased stress, but can become chronic or recur at frequent intervals.
Relief from the symptoms may be obtained from important supportive measures like:
- Reassurance and explanation of the benign nature of the disease.
- Stretching exercises.
- Improved sleep patterns.
- Local applications of heat.
- Low dose anti-depressants may be helpful if the supportive program is insufficient.
- Aspirin and other Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs do not appear to be effective in the management of fibromyalgia.