Understanding Fibromyalgia

Understanding Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a complex pain condition that affects an estimated five million Americans. Fibromyalgia can be one of the most difficult conditions for patients, it negatively impacts their quality of life and often makes the simplest tasks seem difficult. 

Patients with fibromyalgia have widespread pain with additional symptoms that commonly include fatigue, sleep problems and memory problems. Some patients also have depression, anxiety, headaches, digestive problems and pelvic pain. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed based on a physician’s physical exam findings and the symptoms that the patient reports. (1)

Fibromyalgia can be a difficult condition to diagnose because the symptoms often mimic those of other medical conditions. In addition, each patient with fibromyalgia is different and has a unique constellation of symptoms that can vary. While we might use lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia, all of these factors can make diagnosing this condition tricky for patients and physicians. (2)

For those with fibromyalgia, it is important to eat a healthy diet, exercise, get enough sleep and minimize stress. In addition, make sure to find a physician that you trust and that you can speak to openly and honestly. With fibromyalgia as with other medical conditions, teamwork is crucial and a healthy doctor-patient relationship is essential. Make sure you have a good support system, maintain a positive outlook and remember that it is possible to live a very full and productive life with fibromyalgia. 

Myth: Fibromyalgia is not real.

Reality: Fibromyalgia is recognized as a medical condition by well-known, expert groups like the national Institutes of health, American Medical Association, American College of Rheumatology, Food and Drug Administration, Social Security Administration and all major insurers. The American Pain Society has developed guidelines to help healthcare providers treat the condition. (2)

Myth: Fibromyalgia is caused by depression.

Reality: Fibromyalgia is not caused by depression. but fibromyalgia patients sometimes feel depressed. Talk to your provider about treatments that may help you. 

Myth: Fibromyalgia is a new and rare condition.

Reality: Fibromyalgia has been recognized by healthcare providers for a long time. Physicians wrote about “muscular rheumatism,” a condition involving fatigue, stiffness, aches, pains and sleep disturbances back in the 1800’s. The current term was coined in 1976. The American College of Rheumatology set out its diagnostic criteria in 1990. Fibromyalgia is one of this country’s most common types of chronic widespread pain. (1)



  1. https://www.fmcpaware.org/aboutfibromyalgia.html
  2. https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Fibromyalgia
  3. http://www.fibrocenter.com/understanding-fibromyalgia
  4. https://www.healthcentral.com/article/understanding-fibromyalgia
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