What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a long-lasting disorder that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body. It also can cause you to feel overly tired (fatigue) and have trouble sleeping. Doctors do not fully understand what causes fibromyalgia, but people with the disorder are more sensitive to pain.
Who gets fibromyalgia?
Anyone can get fibromyalgia, but more women get it than men. It can affect people of any age, but it usually starts in middle age. The chance of having it increases as you get older. It occurs in people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
If you have other diseases, especially rheumatic diseases, mood disorders, or conditions that cause pain, you may be more likely to have fibromyalgia. These diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus).
- Ankylosing spondylitis.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Chronic back pain.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
Although fibromyalgia tends to run in families, the disorder also occurs in people with no family history of it.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- Long-lasting, widespread pain throughout the body. Pain is often felt in the arms, legs, head, chest, abdomen, back, and buttocks. People often describe it as aching, burning, or throbbing.
- An overwhelming feeling of being tired.
- Trouble sleeping.
Other symptoms may include:
- Muscle and joint stiffness.
- Tenderness to touch.
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs.
- Problems with concentrating, thinking clearly, and memory (sometimes called “fibro fog”).
- Higher sensitivity to light, noise, odors, and temperature.
- Bloating or constipation.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Doctors do not know what causes fibromyalgia. People with the disorder tend to be more sensitive to pain.
Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, genetic factors likely contribute to the disorder, but environmental (nongenetic) factors may also play a role in a person’s risk of developing the disorder.