Fibromyalgia is a condition marked by chronic body-wide musculoskeletal pain. The sufferer may also have fatigue, headaches, anxiety or depression, sleeping difficulties, and other discomforts in conjunction with the general pain syndrome. It is thought that fibromyalgia affects the manner in which the brain processes pain sensation, creating a stronger and longer lasting effect. Those diagnosed with fibromyalgia describe the pain they feel as a constant dull ache that has lasted for longer than three months. The pain is widespread throughout the body, both above and below the waist, and on both left and right sides. The general pain experienced can be increased when pressure is applied to specific areas of the body these are known as tender points.
There are standard places that tender points occur in fibromyalgia. There are back of the head, forward sides of the neck, top of the shoulders, between the shoulder blades, upper chest, the elbows, hips, and knees are all prime tender points. Symptoms can develop suddenly usually following a surgery, trauma, or an intense psychological problem. At other times, the symptoms gradually appear with no apparent event as a precursor. This condition can affect either men or women of any age. Women between the ages of 20 and 50 have a higher rate of diagnosis. Those with a history of rheumatic disease also are more likely to develop fibromyalgia symptoms.
Fibromyalgia currently has no cure. Treatment is focused on lessening the symptoms for the individual. Techniques may include learning coping skills, an exercise regime, antidepressant medications or muscle relaxers, and proper nutrition. Some individuals claim to experience relief with alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture, practicing yoga, and tai chi. Each person responds differently to treatment. There may be an adjustment period while the right therapy or combination of therapies is established.