"What is fibromyalgia?"
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that affects around 2.4% of the population over 20 years old in Spain. Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia based on the patient's symptoms and physical examination. Patients experience pain and stiffness in their muscles, but there are no measurable results on X-rays or most laboratory tests. While fibromyalgia does not damage joints or organs, constant pain and fatigue can have a significant impact on daily life.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia
The hallmark of fibromyalgia is whole-body muscle pain, usually accompanied by:
Trigger points in fibromyalgia
One unique aspect of fibromyalgia is the presence of tender points in specific locations of the body. When these points are pressed, people with fibromyalgia feel pain, while people without the disease only feel pressure. This illustration shows 18 possible tender points.
Fibromyalgia: The pain is real
The pain from fibromyalgia can be intense. Traditionally, since there are no laboratory tests or X-rays that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, people with this condition were once thought to have pain "only in their head." However, the medical community now accepts that fibromyalgia pain is real. Research suggests that it is caused by a failure in how the body perceives pain.
Fibromyalgia and fatigue
After pain, the most common and disabling symptom of fibromyalgia is fatigue. This is not the normal tiredness that follows a day of work, but a persistent feeling of exhaustion. People with fibromyalgia may feel tired in the morning, even after spending hours in bed. Fatigue can be worse on some days than others and can interfere with work, physical activity, and household tasks.
Fibromyalgia: Who is at risk?
Women between the ages of 25 and 60 are at the greatest risk of developing fibromyalgia. Doctors are not sure why, but women are 10 times more likely to have the condition than men. Some researchers believe that genetics may play a role, but specific genes have not yet been identified.
The causes of fibromyalgia
There are many theories about the causes of fibromyalgia, but research has yet to identify a clear culprit. Some doctors believe that hormonal or chemical imbalances disrupt pain signals. Others suggest that a traumatic event or chronic stress can increase a person's susceptibility. Most experts agree that fibromyalgia is likely caused by a combination of factors, rather than a single cause.
Fibromyalgia: Impact on daily life
Constantly struggling with pain and fatigue can make people irritable, anxious, and depressed. It can be difficult to concentrate on work, caring for children, or keeping up with household tasks. Exercise or hobbies like gardening may seem like impossible efforts. Exhaustion and irritability can also lead to avoiding visits with friends. Fortunately, there are effective treatments that help many patients return to a normal life.
How to diagnose fibromyalgia
Your doctor can diagnose fibromyalgia after listening to your symptoms and conducting a physical examination. A blood test can help rule out other diseases that may mimic fibromyalgia. Be sure to describe your pain in detail, including where and how often it occurs. Also, tell your doctor about any other symptoms you have, such as fatigue, sleep problems, or