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What Is Fibromyositis?

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  • Written By: Cathy Crenshaw Doheny
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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Fibromyositis, also known as fibromyalgia, is a common illness that affects approximately 2% of the United States population and is characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues. The illness causes patients to experience multiple tender points, which are locations on the body where only a slight amount of pressure is required to cause pain. This pain often closely resembles the pain of other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with fibromyositis, however, do not exhibit any of the other features of the rheumatoid arthritis, such as swelling and deformity of the joints. Most patients who live with fibromyositis also consider chronic fatigue to be a defining symptom.

Other fibromyositis symptoms may include sleep difficulties, cognitive problems, memory lapses, and exercise intolerance. It is difficult to say whether these symptoms occur concurrently with the widespread pain of the illness, or if they are a result of it. Headaches, dizziness, and sensitivity to sensory stimuli such as noise, odor, and light are also frequently reported symptoms of the illness.

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In order for a patient to be diagnosed with fibromyositis, he or she must have a history of three or more months of widespread pain. The patient must also exhibit pain or tenderness in 11 of 18 tender-point sites. These sites are located at special points along the soft tissues and muscles of the body. Physicians will often order extensive blood and imaging tests to rule out other causes of the patient's symptoms before making the diagnosis of fibromyositis, as there is no diagnostic test specifically for the illness itself.

Fibomyositis treatment consists primarily of medications to manage pain. These may include over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, or stronger prescription pain killers. Treatment is also aimed at improving sleep for patients with the illness. Many physicians prescribe the antidepressant amitriptyline to help promote restful sleep. Other antidepressants, as well as certain anti-seizure medications, may also be helpful in treating the illness.

Researchers do no know for certain what causes fibromyositis, but have been able to identify several risk factors that predispose a patient to the illness. Women in their twenties and thirties are at the greatest risk of being diagnosed. Those with a family history of the illness or those who suffer from sleep disturbances are also prone to developing it. Having another rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, increases a patient's risk of also being diagnosed with fibromyositis.

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Discuss this Article

anon260900
Post 5

I was diagnosed with fibromyositis (fibromyalgia) two years ago. I've tried gluten-free diets. No luck. I'm on disability from a 28-year career as a radiological tech. I miss being productive but I can't really do anything physical for more than 20 minutes before I collapse. The pain is constant.

My saving grace is my very understanding family and a great family doctor. Without their support I would have given up and taken the coward's way out.

I'm 55 years old, but I feel 105. Thanks for the forum. --Phaserphire out.

popcorn
Post 4

There are some interesting rumors of how a gluten-free diet can help eliminate the symptoms of fibromyositis completely. Has anyone tried this diet for awhile to see if it worked?

I have read that some people who are diagnosed with fibromyositis actually don't have it, and that the symptoms can be very similar with gluten intolerance, so trying the diet can be a good way to check.

There are also some people that say that gluten can contribute to overall central sensitization, which can be problematic, as it is believed to be one of the key things that cause fibromyositis.

letshearit
Post 3

For those with fibromyositis there are some foods you can avoid eating that have been proven to have a positive impact on the condition by physicians.

The first one to avoid is aspartame, which is a replacement to sugar put in most diet sodas. It is believed that using aspartame can actually make symptoms of fibromyositis worse.

Another food additive to avoid is MSG because it has also been shown to make pain more intense in fibromyositis patients.

An entire group of food that people are sometimes recommended they cut out for a while is anything falling in the nightshade family. This includes, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers and many more. This is done on a trial basis as these foods are nutritionally good for you, but some people with fibromyositis don't tolerate them well.

nanny3
Post 2

Fibromyalgia is quite serious, although it is a very hard disorder to nail down. It is basically a disease of symptoms, I suppose you could say. The problem is that the symptoms could come from any number of diseases.

However, the fact that fibromyalgia can be horribly debilitating does not make it any easier to diagnose. I’ve known people with this disorder who sometimes could barely get around because of the constant pain that they were in. But before they could get much help for their actual disorder, they had to go through trial and error for other problems first. For instance, osteo arthritis is often ruled out first.

I hear, however, that science is making tremendous strides in this area. Here’s hoping!

JessiC
Post 1

I have been wondering lately if I might actually have fibrositis syndrome. My mother has been diagnosed with the same disorder, but she has many different health issues and I have questioned if the diagnosis is valid.

However, I am completely 100% healthy other than the fact that I’m a little bit heavier than I should be.I recently went to my physician for a checkup and wanted to ask her about it, but chickened out.

I started to wonder if this is a problem for me once I started to have incredible pain when my children would playfully pick at me. For instance, my daughter playfully pushed me in the ribs (she was just tickling me), and the pain was excruciating. She didn’t push hard, but I almost cried.

I have another place like this in my shoulder near my collar bone and in my pelvis. My ribs and upper body seem most sensitive, as well as my thighs and neck.

Since these developments I’ve also pieced together the fact that there are times when I need upwards of ten or eleven hours of sleep a night just to feel rested. I also have frequent severe headaches, and a very sensitive sense of noise and odors. The slightest smells can make me nauseous, and I am definitely not pregnant.

I suppose I have a real fear of being a hypochondriac because of the illnesses that my mother frequently goes through and allows to go to extremes before seeking help. I don’t want to be that way, but now I’m afraid I might really need some quality health advice.

Has anyone else experienced these kinds of symptoms? Could you shed some light on whether this is all in my head.

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