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Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in muscles and soft tissues all over the body. It is an ongoing (chronic) condition. It can affect your neck, shoulders, back, chest, hips, buttocks, arms, and legs. The pain may be worse in the morning and evening. Sometimes, the pain may last all day long. The pain may get worse with activity, cold or damp weather, anxiety and stress. The condition affects about 2% to 4% of people in the U.S. It is most common in middle-aged women.
The cause is unknown. Researchers think there may be a link with sleep problems and stress. It may also be linked to immune, endocrine, or biochemical problems.
Each person’s symptoms may vary. But chronic pain is the most common symptom. The pain most often affects the muscles and the points where muscles attach to bones. These are the ligaments and tendons.
Pain may begin in one part of your body, such as your neck and shoulders. Over time your whole body may be affected. The pain ranges from mild to severe. It may feel like burning, soreness, stiffness, aching, or gnawing pain. You may have sore spots in certain parts of your muscles. It may feel like arthritis, but it’s not a condition that gets worse. And it doesn't damage muscles or bones.
Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
These symptoms can seem like other health conditions. Make sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
There are no tests that can confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Instead, diagnosis is based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may diagnose you with fibromyalgia if you have:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but symptoms can be managed. Mild cases may get better with stress reduction or lifestyle changes. More severe cases may need to be treated with a team. This may include your primary healthcare provider, a specialist called a rheumatologist, a physical therapist, and a pain management clinic. Treatment may include:
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition. But you can manage it by working with your healthcare provider. In addition to medicines, lifestyle changes can help symptoms. These include getting enough sleep and exercise.
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, tell your healthcare provider.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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