Fibromyalgia: A mysterious painful malady

I have Fibromyalgia and it's not fun! A lot of people never even heard of it much less know what it is. However, more and more people are being diagnosed with it. Some scientists believe it may be caused by an injury of trauma. Others believe it's caused by long-term metabolic and nervous system disorders. There are others who think it is a result of unresolved emotions that become trapped inside the muscles. No one explanation or cure exists at this time, but doctors have been looking at various imbalances in the body that cause the extreme pain.

In a research project to measure the relationship of symptoms to metabolism imbalances, found in 50 Fibromyalgic patients as compared to 50 subjects with out fibromyalgia (the control group), the researchers were able to use the results of each group to better determine the metabolic imbalances that occur in Fibromyalgia.

By definition, Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle, ligament, and tendon pain, with stiffness and tenderness to touch lasting longer than three months.
It may be accompanied by fatigue, anxiety and depression. Fortunately, I do not have depression or anxiety. But I do have the fatigue and the pain. According to the American College of Rheumatology, Fibromyalgia affects three to six million Americans. The majority are women between the ages of 25 and 50.

Fibromyalgia is called a syndrome, not a disease, since it represents a group of nonspecific disorders characterized by pain, tenderness and stiffness in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and adjacent connective tissues, which are all "fibrous" in nature. Any of the fibrous tissues in the body may be involved, but the most common sites are: head, neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, thighs, and knees. The onset of symptoms is often traced to an acute viral-like illness or event.

Diagnosing Fibromyalgia

Everyone feels pain at some time or another. It's a normal response of our nervous system to danger in our environment. The pain of Fibromyalgia is different from most normal pain responses. Even though each person perceives pain differently and can accommodate different levels of pain, the pain of Fibromyalgia is persistent and hard to ignore.

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic other disorders. However, the American College of Rheumatology has designed some criteria to help physicians pin point whether a patient may have Fibromyalfia or not. First of all, the pain has to be spread through the body, and must have existed for three or more months. Secondly, painful spots must be present in the areas of the body listed here:

  • the back of the head, lower part of skull, on both side of the spine
  • the sides of the neck along the crease between the head and the neck
  • along the back edge of the trapezius muscles in the shoulders
  • on both side of the spine in the middle of the upper back, just abovre the scapula or shoulder bone
  • on the front between the first and second rib on the upper chest, on both sides of the sternum
  • on the inner side of the lower arm about two inches from the fold in the elbow
  • on the lower back near the dimpled area of the backside
  • along the side of the body in the middle hip area
  • on the inner side toward the back of the knee

We do not know exactly what causes fibromyalgia but there is now a clearer understanding that there is an interaction between the physical and mental aspects of this illness. Fibromyalgia is an illness involving both the mind and the body. The amount of pain felt by a person with fibromyalgia is often affected by the way they are feeling, and the reverse is also true. Feeling depressed, stressed or anxious may make the muscular pain feel worse, which may in turn add to the stress and anxiety.

Treating Fibromyalgia

If you suspect you might have fibromyalgia, you should make an appointment with a rheumatologist. Fibro is an immune system disease and responds to some of the same treatment as arthritis. Doctors will usually prescribe 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night, low-impact exercise, a healthy diet, pain medicine, and massage. I find that a warm therapy pool is helpful, as is yoga, acupuncture, and relaxation exercises. If the pain is very severe, relief might be gotten from steroid injections or low doses of anti-depressants.

Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia

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Comments 25 comments

Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

My son's ex-girlfriend has Fibromyalgia.....she takes lots of pills and is in pain most of the time. Sometimes we could even see the pain in her eyes. I have little understanding of it ....I know it is hard to explain what one feels. I surely hope that the medical profession finds a cure. I surely hope that you become pain free. Thanks for sharing this.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, Tom, for the caring comments. I guess I've just gotten used to living with pain (sort of). I don't like taking a lot of pills, so most of the time I just grin and bare it

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wordscribe41 7 years ago

A friend of mine has fibromyalgia. I know Oregon Health Sciences University has been doing all kinds of research on its link to improper sleep patterns: REM problems. I hope they come up with some solutions. It sounds like a nightmare. Thanks for another great hub!

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

WS: Yeah, I knew they were studying the relationship of Fibro to sleep patterns. I had a sleep study done and that was ruled out, as contributing to my problem. Hoping they'll come up with something else soon.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

BC: Thanks for all the great info. I know how to divide the page up and drop in pics and videos, but didn't know that it would get me a higher score. Also knew adding 15 tags was a good idea, but didn't know it had anything to do with ads. Did not know how best way to word the tags. BTW, I don't know anything about having ads, anyhow. I tried to sign up for goodle adsense, but couldn't complete it. Is that what you're referring to. How do you know all this? Is that info available to everyone?

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, BC, appreciate all the good tips. I completed the adsense app. but it wouldn't go through. I tried over and over and kept getting error messages.

BadCo 7 years ago

Just caught me checking my mail, that is such a difference and looks really class now. Just try adsense tomorrow again but that looks great but you could maybe slot the video up into the end right of the hub but overall miles better. And anytime my friend, right Art is off to bed, goodnight ; )

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, BC. I really appreciate all your input. Will try adsense again today.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

alekhouse - since fibromyalgia is a set of symptoms and not exaclty a disease, I wonder if there could be several different reasons for it. My mother suffered from fibromyaligia back in the late 1990's, we had nevr heard of it. I wondered, at the time, if it was a sort of post-polio syndrome or related to her having had polio years before.

fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks for this article. My mother suffers frm Fibromylgia and I know she is in pain but never complains, I never really understood it until now. Is it genetic?


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

DM: Yes, Fibromyalgia is a syndrome of nonspecific disorders characterized by pain, etc. Some scientists believe it may be caused by an injury of trauma or a virus. Possibly the polio, you mentioned, could have brought it on.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

fortunerep. Sorry about your mom. Has been able to get any relief? As far as I know, it isn't genetic.

Queen of the Lint profile image

Queen of the Lint 7 years ago from The Laundry Room

This is a wonderful, informative hub. My mother has fibro (among other ailments), and she went through a lot before a doctor finally diagnosed her!

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Yeah, a lot of doctors don't even believe it exists. Either that, or they just don't know how to deal with it. It's a sydrome, not a disease, making it pretty hard to isolate. With a syndrome there are many symptoms, and non-specific disorders involving both mind and body, some of which may mimic other ailments. And the pain can be extremely intense.

Ruth Rideout 7 years ago

I, too, have Fibromyalgia along with seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Yes, it is painful, and so far, they do not have any remedies in Canada. I am currently on a low dose medicine to allow me to sleep as I was becoming quite sleep deprived. When that happens, it is the age-old question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Are you hurting more because you are sleep-deprived or are you sleep-deprived because you are hurting? I am going to try the natural alternative remedy called JointEase Plus. See the link above.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

So sorry, Ruth. You must be in a lot of pain. I too have Osteo-, but not Rheumatoid arthritis. What other things are you doing besides taking meds and the JointEase Plus?

Svea profile image

Svea 7 years ago from Florida

My sister has fibromyalgia and I have seen her struggle daily, when she was tested for the points (18), she had 17, She also has osteoarthritis and mild sleep apnea,

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Svea, Sorry, about your sister. Her Fibro sounds pretty severe. Those three maladies seem to go together. Thanks for the comments.

lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 7 years ago from Virginia

Thanks for helping us understand fibromyalgia better.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

You are very welcome. And thanks for the comment.

Jewels profile image

Jewels 6 years ago from Australia

Thanks for writing this. I don't have this affliction but I know people who have and am keen to assist those with relaxation and breathing methods. The more info I get on this, from people experiencing the condition, the better.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Good, glad you liked the hub. Relaxation and deep breathing really do help, and so does massage. I get one every week. I have a great masseuse.

GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


There is so much we don't know about the human body. The science is moving forward very quickly. Exercise is always good for both the muscles and for the mind. Sadly, we are raised with no exercise routine. My fitness clients probably are tired of my mantra of deep breathing but the muscles and the mind need the deep breathing.

Pain is depressing - in and of itself.

The loss of muscle tone I find for myself personally is depressing. Sadly, the aging process includes the loss of muscle tone.

Thomas Jefferson felt that everyone over 40 should exercise no less than 2 hours a day. Oh, IF we could only live in a perfect world.

Does accupuncture help fibromyalgia?

Very well written article on an immune disorder that is disabling for many. Thank you so much!

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

What helps me is light exercise, massage, yoga and meditation. If it gets really bad I take tylenol, but never anything stronger. I am almost always in pain...but have gotten used to it. I use mind over matter to get things accomplished. Focussing on my writing helps.

acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 5 years ago from Guildford

I have a close friend you has recently been diagnosed with this terrible disease. Your informative hub has enlightened me to understand her problems. I will certainly suggest to her that she goes to get a massage. Thank you for your help.

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