Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects more women than men. As such, it is often overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Masking itself as other conditions, it can be a slippery one to catch and may take longer than would be otherwise acceptable to diagnose. In the meantime, you suffer from chronic exhuastion, experience pain in your muslces, ligaments and tendons and have multiple tender points, or places that react as if you were being touched in a violent or forceful manner even at the slightest, gentle touch.
Fibromyalgia can also be tricky because it tends to morph; rearing its ugly head and causing more intense discomfort during times of extreme stress than at other times.
Some of the most common areas to experience tender points in the body are:
Back of the head
Between shoulder blades
Top of shoulders
Front sides of neck
Sides of hips
Fatigue and sleep disturbance
At times people with fibromyalgia can't achieve as deeply nourishing a sleep as those without it, often waking exhausted and drained.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Restless legs syndrome
Doctors don't know what causes fibromyalgia, but it most likely involves a variety of factors working together. These may include:
Current thinking centers around a theory called central sensitization. This theory states that people with fibromyalgia have a lower threshold for pain because of increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals.
Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brains of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain's pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they can overreact to pain signals.
Risk factors for fibromyalgia include:
Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep.