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Fibromyalgia Glossary


Fibromyalgia Glossary

ACR American College of Rheumatology - in 1990 developed the Criteria Classification of Fibromyalgia. See Here
ANAs Antinuclear antibodies - they are unusual antibodies that attack the body’s own cells & tissues.
 ANS  Autonomic  Nervous System - Part of the nervous system that involuntarily controls the body’s internal environment eg: the muscle of the heart.   See Here
ATP Adenosine Triphosphate -A carrying molecule present in all living cells which serves as an energy source for many metabolic processes.
Abnormal Not normal - unusual behaviour, condition, position or structure.
Acupuncture A complimentary therapy technique – inserting needles to particular muscle areas, stimulating the production of endorphins (natural painkilling biochemicals).
Adrenalin Adrenalin is a natural stimulant made in the adrenal gland of the kidney. It is carried in the bloodstream and affects the autonomous nervous system, which controls functions such as the heart rate, dilation of the pupils, and secretion of sweat and saliva.
Agonist In medication - A drug that combines a receptor to a cell to trigger a response. E.g. Dopamine. In muscle – a muscle that contracts while another relaxes.
Allodynia Pain experienced from a stimuli – touch, location & temperature, which are not normally painful.
Amitriptyline A tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) that acts on the nerves of the brain cells.
Amygdala Part of the brain associated with feeling emotions.
Analgesic A pain relieving medication.
Antibodies A type of protein produced by the immune system when it detects harmful antigens (bacteria, fungi, parasites & viruses).
 Anticonvulsant  A drug used to prevent or lessen convulsions or seizures.
Antidepressant A drug used to relieve the symptoms of depression.  There are four main types - TCAs, MAOIs, SSRIs & SNRIsSee Here
Anti-inflammatory A medication that reduces inflammation and acts as an analgesic giving pain relief.
 Antispasmodic A drug used in relieving or preventing convulsions or spasms.
Anxiety An uneasy or unpleasant feeling of distress, fear or apprehension.
Arthritis Inflammation of a joint - the 2 most common are OA (Osteoarthritis) & RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)  See Here
Asymptomatic Absence of symptoms or there are no symptoms.  E.g. you can have high blood pressure but no symptoms.
Autoimmune Disease An overactive immune response of the body attacking its own cells that can affect any part of the body.
Biochemical Relating to biochemistry; characterized by, produced by, or involving chemical reactions in living organisms.
Biomarker A biochemical feature or facet that can be used to measure the progress of disease or the effects of treatment.
Brainfog Mental confusion and forgetfulness that can accompany a flare.
Bruxism A disorder characterized by grinding and clenching of the teeth.
CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - A talking therapy/treatment based on a persons emotional, behavioural reactions and thought patterns.  Can help you to change how you 'think' (Cognitive) and 'what to do' (Behaviour).  See Here
CFS Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – prolonged tiredness/fatigue that does not go away, but is also accompanied with other symptoms.  See Here
CNS Central Nervous System - The brain and spinal cord. See Here
 CRH Corticotropin-releasing hormone - A hormone made by the hypothalamus that stimulates the release of corticotropin by the anterior pituitary gland.
CSF Cerebrospinal fluid – a clear fluid that flows in the cavities between the brain, skull & spinal cord.  It acts as a shock absorber for the Central Nervous System.
C-fibres Slow-acting nociceptive nerves deeper in the body, which transmit chronic pain messages
Cartilage A tough, resilient tissue that covers and cushions the ends of the bones and absorbs shock.
Central Sensitisation  An increase in excitability of the central nervous system neurons in response to a stimuli.  More Info
Chronic Means lasting a long time, persisting or recurrent.
Coexistent Existing together or at the same time.
Cognition The process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging.
Collagen The main structural protein of skin, tendon, bone cartilage, and connective tissues.
Comorbidity Existence of other diseases or medical conditions in addition to the primary medical problem.
Connective Tissue Supports the body and connects, binds & supports other tissues together.
Costochondritis Inflammation of the cartilage that connects the inner end of each rib with the breastbone.  See here
Cortisol The 'primary' stress hormone produced by the adrenalin gland.  Its secretion increases during the 'fight or flight' response.
Cymbalta Brand name for duloxetine hydrochloride - an SSRI antidepressant.
Cytokines Non-antibody proteins produced by cells to interact with and regulate the cells of the immune system.
Degenerative Progressive impairment of both the structure and function of part of the body. 
Depression  An illness with feelings of grief, hopelessness, sadness or low energy, that is different from the normal.
Diagnosis The identification or determination of the nature of the cause of a disease, either by process of elimination or other analytical methods.
Dopamine A neurotransmitter that affects the part of the brain that controls movement and plays a part in experiences of desire, pleasure or pain.
Dorsal Horn Part of the spinal cord at the back of the body that acts as a gate for pain messages.
Dysautonomia Abnormal function of the autonomic nervous system.
Dysmenorrhoea Defined as difficult menstrual flow or painful menstruation.
Dysfunction Difficult, abnormal or impaired function of an organ or bodily system.
Endocrine System Consists of glands that release hormones and is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.
Endorphins Biochemicals of the body, acting as a natural painkiller and can giving a natural sense of well being.
EULAR The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organisation which represents the patient, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.
FDA U.S Food and Drug Administration - Responsible for the regulatory of foods, drugs and vaccines in the U.S etc.  See Here
Fatigue Known as weariness, tiredness, exhaustion or lethargy, generally defined as a feeling of lack of energy.  A feeling of apathy and the desire to sleep but not like drowsiness.
Fibrofog Mental confusion and forgetfulness that can accompany a flare. Also known as Brainfog.
Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia causes pain in your muscles and joints, as well as tenderness when you press certain spots on your body.  See here
Flare An increase of achiness, discomfort, fatigue, pain & stiffness.  An exacerbation of symptoms.
Genetic Predisposition Increased genetic susceptibility to inherit a specific characteristic of a disease.
Growth Hormone Produced during delta sleep, is involved in tissue repair. Therefore, disrupted stage 4 (delta) sleep associated with fibromyalgia may account for low levels of growth hormone. More Info
HMS Hypermobility Syndrome - Increased range of movement of joints.  See Here
Hippocampus An area buried deep in the fore brain that helps regulate emotion and memory. It is part of the olfactory cortex, that part of the cerebral cortex essential to the sense of smell.
Hormones Chemicals produced by glands in the body that circulate in the blood, acting as messengers having effects on body tissues.
Hyperalgesia Extreme sensitivity to pain.
Hypertension High Blood Pressure
Hyperglycaemia An abnormally excessive concentration of glucose in the blood.
Hypoglycaemia An abnormally diminished concentration of glucose in the blood.
Hypotension Low Blood Pressure
Hypothalamus Part of the brain that regulates blood pressure, hunger, body  temperature, thirst, & sleep.  See Here
IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome - A common gut disorder and it's functions.  See Here
Idiopathic Pertaining to conditions without clear cause, as of spontaneous origins.
 IGF Insulin Growth Factor - A hormone involved in releasing growth hormone during sleep.
Immunological Pertaining to the immune system it’s functions of cells and antibodies etc.
Inflammation A characteristic reaction of tissues to injury or disease. It is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
Intercostal Means between the ribs.
Irritable Bladder  A condition of the bladder marked by a sudden strong and irresistible urge to urinate.  There is however no pain associated with the condition even if there may be some discomfort in the urinary bladder.
 Juvenile Fibromyalgia  Fibromyalgia in children & adolescents.  See Here
Ligaments A band of tough fibrous tissue connecting bones to other bones in joints and control its range of movement.
Lateral Pertaining to the side of the body.
Limbic System Part of the brain involved in many of our emotions or motivations, particularly survival.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Opiate Antagonist that has had some pilot clinical study success in managing fibromyalgia. Not licensed for fibromyalgia. More information on its availability and use can be found here.
Lupus Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) - An autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and injures the body’s own organs and tissues. See Here

The first US prescribed drug approved by the FDA, to treat fibromyalgia.  See Here





MPS Myofascial Pain Syndrome - Pain affecting muscles and connective tissue which is more localised than fibromyalgia.  It is associated with trigger points.  See Here
MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging - A strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body.  See Here
Mechanical Pain  A name given to any type of back pain caused by abnormal stress & strain put on the muscles which support the vertebral column.
Mitochondria Responsible for energy production in cells located in a cytoplasm outside the nucleus of a cell.
 Muscle Is the primary tissue of the body which act as a source of power.
Musculoskeletal Pertaining to the ligaments, muscles, tendons, joints & bones with the associated tissues that move & maintain the body form.  (Muscles & the skeleton)
NREM Non-Rapid Eye Movement - One of the levels of sleep.
 NMDA N-methyl-D-aspartic acid - A brain receptor activated by the amino acid glutamate.
NSAIDs Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs - eg Diclofenic, Ibuprofen etc.
Neuromuscular Involving both nerves and muscles.
Neurons Are responsive cells found in the Central Nervous System (part of the brain) processing & transmitting information through a electrochemical process.
Neurotransmitters Chemical substances released from the nerve endings of a neuron to transmit impulses to other neurons.
Nociceptors Peripheral receptors for pain. Nociceptors include receptors which are sensitive to painful mechanical stimuli, extreme heat or cold, and chemical stimuli. All nociceptors are free nerve endings.
 Non-articular Affecting the muscles, connective tissues or soft tissues rather than joints.
Non-Restorative Sleep A condition where a person is not refreshed after a night’s sleep.
Norepinephrine A neurotransmitter & a hormone released naturally by nerve cells, producing many effects throughout the body in a 'fight or flight' chemical, responsible for the body's reaction to stressful situations.  Also known as Noradrenaline.
Opiates A drug (as morphine or codeine) containing or derived from opium and tending to induce sleep and alleviate pain.
Opioids  A synthetic drug possessing narcotic properties similar to opiates but not derived from opium.
Pain Threshold The amount of stimuli it takes to cause you pain. Those of us with fibromyalgia are clinically proven to have low pain thresholds
Pain Tolerance How much pain you can handle before breaking down mentally or physically. It tends to increase the more you deal with pain.
Paraparesis Partial paralysis affecting the lower limbs.
Parasympathetic Part of the autonomic nervous system whose nerves originate in the midbrain, the hindbrain, and the sacral region of the spinal cord.
Paresthesia Abnormal sensation such as, numbness, prickling and tingling.
Pathogenesis The origin and development of a disease.
Pathological Relating to or caused by disease.
Pathophysiological Pertaining to bodily function changes that cause an illness or the bodily function changes that the illness causes.
Peripheral Means areas away from the centre of the body or a body part. Eg: hands are peripheral to the shoulder.
Prevalence A statistical measure of people in the population having a disease at a point or period in time.
Prognosis A prediction or expected outcome of a disease. 2. A patient's chance of recovery.
Psychology Science of the mind and mental processes.  The emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual, group, or activity.
Psychosocial Involving both psychological & social aspects. 2. Relating social conditions to mental health.
REM Rapid Eye Movement - the stage of sleep characterised by dreams.
RLS Restless Leg Syndrome - a neurological condition that is characterized by the irresistible urge to move the legs.  See Here
Raynaud's Phenomenon A disorder resulting in discoloration of fingers and/or toes when a person is exposed to changes in temperature (hot or cold) or emotional stress.  See Here  or here
Rheumatology The branch of medicine concerned with problems with tendons, muscles or joints.
Sensory Relating to sensation, eg: pain, temperature or touch.
Serotonin A neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and metabolism.
Sjogrens Syndrome Sjögren's syndrome can cause various symptoms, the most common being dry eyes and dry mouth. These symptoms are due to lack of secretions from glands in the body. In severe cases the lungs, kidneys, nervous system and lymph glands can be affected. Treatment is mainly directed at symptom control.tes mood, sleep, and metabolism. More Info here.
Spasm A sudden involuntary contraction of a muscle, causing the muscle to clench tight, shorten and squeeze causing pain.
Substance P A neurotransmitter that appears in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. It is involved in the transmission of pain.
Symptomatology Combined symptoms of a particular disease.
Syndrome A collection of signs and symptoms that occur together constituting the picture of a particular disease.
Systemic Affecting the body as a whole or affecting a particular body system.
TMJ Temporomandibular Joint - A disorder consisting of pain, muscle tenderness, clicking in the joint, and limitation or alteration of the jaw movement.
Tender Points Areas of the body that are painful to touch in Fibromyalgia.  There are 11-18 tender points used in the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. See Here
Tinnitus A noise in the ear or head, described as buzzing, hissing, humming, ringing or whistling, which is generated inside the body rather than coming from outside.
Trigger Points Tight bands of muscle tissue that are painful to the touch. When pressure is applied to these points, they cause radiation of pain throughout the body.
Virus A micro-organism smaller than a bacteria, which cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself.
Vulvodynia A term used to describe pain in the vulva, often severe, of unknown cause.
WHO World Health Organisation - the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.  See Here


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