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Fibromyalgia Overview

Written by maria_rn, sshowalter, Gary Wu.

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic rheumatoid condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, diffuse tenderness, fatigue, and a number of other seemingly unrelated symptoms. The word “fibromyalgia” comes the Latin term fibro (fibrous tissue) and the Greek words myo (muscle) and algia (pain).

One of the hallmark of fibromyalgia is tenderness on palpation of specific sites. In fibromyalgia, the pain in the tissues do not occur with inflammation. This is the reason why this syndrome neither causes joint deformities nor damages internal organs. Fibromyalgia symptoms present in varying degrees. For most patients, the widespread flu-like ache is constant, but for others it comes and goes. The muscles may feel like they were pulled or overworked. Sometimes the muscles twitch and other times they burn.

More on Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, but so far research shows that it predominantly affects women between the ages of 35 and 55. Many men have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and some men go undiagnosed for years. Fibromyalgia can occur independently or with another disease, such as systemic lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. In the United States, about 2% of the population has fibromyalgia.

Living with Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia has a considerable impact on everyday life. Many patients reported changes in habits and routines as a consequence of the disorder. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating. Findings of epidemiological research clearly indicate the socioeconomic burden of fibromyalgia .

Aside from physical symptoms like pain and fatigue, patients with fibromyalgia may also have to deal with the frustration of having a condition that's often misunderstood. Fibromyalgia is a complex health challenge. Counting on the expertise of health care providers is just half the battle, the patient's involvement is the other crucial half. In addition to medications, coping strategies and self-care can help in effectively managing all aspects of fibromyalgia.


Skelly, M., Blewster, K. Starlanyl, D. Women Living with Fibromyalgia. 2001.

Hunter House.

Reisine S, Fifield J, Walsh SJ, Feinn R.Do employment and family work affect the health status of women with fibromyalgia?J Rheumatol. 2003 Sep;30(9):2045-53.

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1 Comment

Posted 14 years ago

The American College of Rheumatology study ( from 2004 found that 80% - 9% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. (

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