What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Symptoms other than pain may occur, leading to the use of the term fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Other symptoms include feeling tired to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some people also report difficulty with swallowing, Not all people with fibromyalgia experience all associated symptoms.
Its exact cause is unknown but is believed to involve psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. There is evidence that environmental factors and certain genes increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia – these same genes are also associated with other functional somatic syndromes and major depressive disorder. The central symptom of fibromyalgia, namely widespread pain, appears to result from neuro-chemical imbalances including activation of inflammatory pathways in the brain which results in abnormalities in pain processing. The brains of people with fibromyalgia show functional and structural differences from those of people without fibromyalgia, but it is unclear whether the brain anomalies cause fibromyalgia symptoms or are the product of an unknown underlying common cause. Some research suggests that these brain anomalies may be the result of childhood stress, or prolonged or severe stress.
Fibromyalgia is recognized as a disorder by the US National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology. Despite this, there is controversy as to the cause and nature of fibromyalgia, as well as how people affected are described by those in the medical community. Dr. Frederick Wolfe, lead author of the 1990 paper that first defined the diagnostic guidelines for fibromyalgia, has stated he believes the causes of fibromyalgia "are controversial in a sense" and "there are many factors that produce these symptoms – some are psychological and some are physical and it does exist on a continuum."
Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2–8% of the population, The term "fibromyalgia" derives from New Latin, fibro-, meaning "fibrous tissues", Greek myo-, "muscle", and Greek algos, "pain"; thus the term literally means "muscle and connective tissue pain".