Fibromyalgia (formerly fibrositis) is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness of muscles, tendons, and joints without detectable inflammation. It is also characterized by restless sleep, awakening tired, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and disturbances in bowel function. The condition is non-life-threatening and does not cause body damage or deformity. It affects an estimated 3-6 million Americans.


  • Is fibromyalgia a form of arthritis?

Fibromyalgia is considered a muscle condition. It is not a form of arthritis (a disease of the joints) because it does not cause inflammation in the joints. But fibromyalgia can (like arthritis) cause significant pain and fatigue, and it can similarly interfere with a person's ability to carry on daily activities.


  • What causes fibromyalgia?

While there is no known cause for fibromyalgia, recent research has revealed new facts about the disease. Fibromyalgia patients have elevated levels of the nerve chemical signal substance P and nerve growth factor in their spinal fluid. They tend to have low levels of the brain nerve chemical serotonin and impaired non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep phase (which likely explains the common feature of awakening fatigued and unrefreshed).


  • The universal symptom of fibromyalgia is pain

patients seem to have an increased sensitivity to many different sensory stimuli. The result is an unusually low pain threshold. The pain is generally widespread, involving both sides of the body and commonly affecting the neck, buttocks, shoulders, arms, the upper back, and the chest.
The pain of fibromyalgia can sometimes be further aggravated by sensory stressors such as noise, weather change, bright lights, and emotional stress.