Fibromyalgia: what it is, symptoms and treatment

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Fibromyalgia symptoms and treatment. Fibromyalgia is one of the most common rheumatological diseases and has been growing in our society in recent years. In fact, recent studies determine that this disease has an incidence rate of more than 5 new cases per thousand inhabitants per year, being especially prevalent in the case of women. In this article, Nomenial finds out more..

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic and complex syndrome that causes widespread muscle pain.

This condition was called fibrositis for a long time, but now the preferred name is fibromyalgia or fibromyalgia syndrome (with the acronym “SFM”).

The term fibromyalgia is derived from the following:

Fibro: Fibrous tissue.

Mine: Muscles.

Algia: Pain.

Thus, fibromyalgia, as its name suggests, mainly affects the soft tissues of the body (such as ligaments and tendons).

Symptoms of fibromyalgia

The person may come to the doctor with symptoms such as burning, discomfort or uneasiness. Often, the pain caused by fibromyalgia is changeable in relation to time of day, activity level, weather changes, lack of sleep or stress.

The most common symptoms that would point to fibromyalgia are pain throughout the body and tiredness. Beyond these two, there are others that are also present and that we will describe below such as: anxiety, sleep disorder, depression or difficulty in concentrating.

Beyond these symptoms there are no diagnostic tests that can determine fibromyalgia, but sometimes they are performed to exclude that it is another condition, for example rheumatic.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: Pain

It is the main symptom of this syndrome. The patient expresses that “everything hurts”, being this pain difficult to define. In a general way, it is described as burning or prickling.

This pain does not present itself in an immutable way, neither in its position in the body nor in its frequency and intensity, so that in some occasions it can diminish but in others it can be sufficiently intense as to prevent to make the daily tasks.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: fatigue

It is the next most frequent symptom. The patient feels tired, especially when getting up in the morning. With the passage of the day this fatigue is reduced, although it does not disappear completely, and may worsen if during the day some type of physical activity is performed.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: stiffness

This feeling occurs especially at the beginning of the day or after sitting or standing without moving for long periods of time.

Changes in temperature or humidity also affect it.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: sleep disturbance

People who suffer from fibromyalgia often experience problems in getting easy, quality sleep. In each patient it manifests itself in a different way, so that some can have a restless sleep and others sleep a few consecutive hours.

This alteration in the routine of the dream is also one of the causes of the symptom of fatigue that characterizes this disease.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: headache

It is common for patients to suffer from headaches, as well as dizziness and problems with memory retention of recent events.

Vision can also be affected by eye muscle fatigue.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: carpal tunnel syndrome

It is a disease that affects the median nerve. This is the nerve in the wrist that makes it possible for the parts of the hand to be sensitive and to move.

People with carpal tunnel syndrome have burning or itchy numbness in their fingers and palms that prevents the hand from doing such common tasks as grasping objects or distinguishing hot and cold by touch.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: gastrointestinal problems

To the previous problems they join other gastrointestinal ones as:

Irritable bowel syndrome. It is usually very common among patients with fibromyalgia (between 60 and 70% suffer from it). It is a fluctuating abdominal pain or discomfort over time.

Swallowing difficulties. Due to alterations in the musculature of the esophagus, swallowing difficulties may occur.

Heartburn. Painful burning sensation in the esophagus (in the area just below the sternum), caused by the reflux of gastric juices.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia: depression and anxiety

Two out of three fibromyalgia patients suffer from depression and anxiety.

The profound pain, the inability to sleep, the permanent sensation of fatigue and the rest of the symptoms that a patient with fibromyalgia can suffer cause not only that visible physical damage, but also a psychological and emotional damage that increases the damage to their quality of life.

Causes of Fibromyalgia

The causes of this syndrome have not yet been discovered, but it is thought that many factors are involved. There are cases in which patients develop the disease without apparent cause and others in which it can be associated, by cause-effect relationship, to a certain cause.

On these last ones, the most habitual ones usually are:

Traumatic effects (such as traffic accidents).

Frequent injuries.

Bacterial or viral infections.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

There is no “positive” diagnosis of fibromyalgia. The doctor makes a diagnosis by ruling out other diseases that have the same symptoms as this one.

Thus, the diagnosis is obtained by combining data collected from different sources:

Clinical history of pain

The pain is generalized, meaning that it occurs on both the right and left sides of the body and both above and below the waist.

To begin to think that it may be fibromyalgia, this widespread pain must be present for more than 3 months (and not be attributable to any other disease).

Blood tests

There is no blood test to indicate that the patient has fibromyalgia. But, the doctor will want to perform such a test to rule out other diseases.

Pain points

Experts have determined 18 points of pain as a reference to determine the existence or not of the syndrome.

The sensation of pain in 11 of these 18 points will be a sign that the patient suffers from fibromyalgia.

These 18 body points (or tend points or ‘trigger points’ of fibromyalgia) are included in nine pairs of points and are as follows:

Occiput. In the insertion of the suboccipital muscle (in the upper cervical region).

Lower cervical. In the neck, above the clavicle.

Trapezium. At the point where the neck ends.

Supraspinatus. Above the spine of the scapula.

Second rib. In the lateral part of the trunk.

Epicondyle. Next to the elbow.

Gluteus. In the upper external quadrant of the buttocks.

Greater trochanter. On the side of the thigh.


The doctor will determine that the patient suffers from fibromyalgia if he or she meets the two requirements set forth in this section: generalized pain for more than 3 months and that it is present in 11 of the 18 points indicated.

Fibromyalgia treatment

Treatment for fibromyalgia consists of medication and personal care.

There is no cure for this disease, but through multiple treatment, the patient can minimize the symptoms and thus improve their overall well-being:

Pharmacological treatment

Medication can help achieve the following goals:

Decrease pain.

Improve the quality of sleep.

Reduce fatigue.

Maintain emotional balance.

The most common drugs are:

Analgesics. Some as common as paracetamol or ibuprofen can provide the desired relief.

Antidepressants. They help to relax and reduce fatigue.

Anticonvulsant drugs. Often, drugs developed to treat epilepsy help reduce certain types of pain.


This can be applied in the physical, psychological and emotional field:

Physiotherapy. The physiotherapist will teach the patient to do exercises to improve his strength, flexibility and resistance.

Occupational therapy. Through it, you will be able to slow down your loss of autonomy and learn to carry out your daily activities in the closest way to what you have always done.

Psychological counseling. It is a crucial part in the treatment of this syndrome. Through the work of a professional, the patient can transform the idea he has about pain and adopt a more positive attitude towards the consequences of fibromyalgia. This will greatly improve their mood, reduce their feeling of fatigue and tiredness and increase their functional capacity.

Living with Fibromyalgia

Along with prescribed treatment, daily habits are an essential tool in relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia. These are the most recommended tips for living with it in the best possible way:

Take time to relax every day. Breathing exercises and meditation help reduce the stress and anxiety that are characteristic of this condition.

Set regular sleeping schedules. Getting enough sleep helps the patient’s body to recover. For it, the most effective thing is to avoid to sleep throughout the day to thus have dream when the night arrives and to eliminate stimuli like the caffeine or the nicotine.

To carry out physical activity frequently. Although at the beginning it can be difficult and who suffers this disease is shown, by its fatigue, reluctant to do it, this is a very important part of the treatment.

We know the problems that fibromyalgia creates in the life of the sufferer. That is why help and companionship become not fundamental, but vital. In Nomenial we select caregivers who transform those problems into small obstacles that together they overcome, managing, this way, to improve the day by day of the person who suffers them and, with it, the whole family.