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Fibromyalgia Advocacy Sheet

By EmpowHER

A person affected with fibromyalgia could visit several doctors before being diagnosed with the condition, and a lot is still not known about the disorder. Fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome, not a disease, that is associated with and can overlap arthritis.

A person with symptoms of fibromyalgia may experience widespread pain, body tenderness and sensitivity, headaches, painful menstrual periods, sleep disturbances and fatigue, morning stiffness, sensitivity to loud noises and temperature in addition to other, often overlapping symptoms.

While it is still uncertain what causes fibromyalgia, research has shown that acute stress such as that occurring with a car accident or some other traumatic incident could contribute. Researchers also agree that fibromyalgia is a disorder of abnormal sensory processing in the central nervous system causing pain amplification. There are ongoing studies working toward further understanding of the disorder.

  • How is fibromyalgia diagnosed? There are no laboratory tests for diagnosing fibromyalgia, so doctors have to rely on patient history, reported symptoms, physical examination, and accurate manual tender point examination (based on American College of Rheumatology standards). It is important to work with a doctor familiar with fibromyalgia if you suspect you may have this condition.
  • How do I know if what I’m feeling could be fibromyalgia? If you are experiencing multiple symptoms, contact your doctor. According to The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, women and people with family members who have had fibromyalgia are most likely to develop fibromyalgia.
  • How is fibromyalgia treated? Your doctor may suggest you see a specialist (rheumatologist) for proper diagnosis and treatment, unless your doctor is skilled in dealing with fibromyalgia. When treating the disorder, doctors will form a program of pain and sleep management, psychological support, and possibly other treatments like physical and/or massage therapy to help relieve symptoms.
  • What is the long-term risk? As new information about fibromyalgia is developed, patients can find ways to improve their quality of life despite the lack of a cure. While there is prescription medication available, it is only a step in improving patient treatment.
  • What information should I share with my doctor if I suspect fibromyalgia? It is important to keep track of symptoms, medications and supplements, what seems to help or worsen your condition, personal and family medical history, and share it with your doctor.
  • Is there any research I can do on my own and what sources would you recommend? Your doctors can suggest their favorite web sites for obtaining more information and helping you cope with fibromyalgia.

www.niams.nih.gov Fibromyalgia
www.fmaware.org About Fibromyalgia

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