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Fibromyalgia Facts


Fibromyalgia is NOT: 

  • Fibromyalgia can cause symptoms that resemble arthritis or neurological disorders, but it is different from these disorders.
  • Unlike arthritis, it does not cause the joints to swell or become deformed, even though it may cause pain in the tissues or a feeling of swelling around a joint.
  • It does not cause paralysis or progressive neurological  problems
  • It is not crippling
  • It is not a ruptured disc
  • It is not a pinched nerve, even though the symptoms may resemble those caused by a pinched nerve
  • It is not a tumour
  • It is not life threatening—despite what the pain may be telling you
  • It is not all in your head
  • It is not a mental health problem
  • It is not a “new” disease or some recent “medical” fad

It does not turn into one of the above mentioned conditions


People with fibromyalgia may look okay on the outside, but are definitely hurting on the inside. 

What are the Characteristics of Fibromyalgia?

  • Seen in about 2% of the population, affects men, women, and children of all ages, races and economic levels, according to Government statistics 14,000 people are diagnosed annually.
  • Onset of symptoms can be at any age, but mainly from 20-60 years of age.
  • Mild to incapacitating,  no two people are the same
  • Variable chronic symptoms
  • Pain changes location
  • Affects women more than men in the ratio: 9 to 1

How common is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a common illness. In fact, it is as common as rheumatoid arthritis and can be more painful.  People with mild to moderate cases of fibromyalgia are usually able to live a near normal life, given the appropriate treatment.

If a person’s symptoms are more severe they may find that they

  • have to greatly modify their typical day,
  • or find themselves not being able to hold on to a job
  • or enjoy much of a social life

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

Some possible triggers of FM are:

  • some sort of trauma such as a fall or car accident
  • a viral infection
  • hormonal problems
  • an operation
  • muscle physiology problems—decreased oxygen supply to muscles may account for some of the pain mechanism
  • or it begins without any obvious trigger

It is a complicated condition:

  • which often has more than one factor involved
  • may even stem from a genetic predisposition
  • triggers may be recognised, but the exact mechanism of how fibromyalgia develops from any trigger is not fully known
  • it is an “end point” condition with multiple paths leading to it

Latest research has identified:

  • a deficiency in Serotonin in the central nervous system and
  • a resulting imbalance of Substance P (a transmitter substance that sends pain messages to the brain)

The effect of this is:

  • disordered Sensory Processing (the brain registers pain, which is amplified, when others might experience a slight ache or stiffness)
  • Research now strongly indicates that a central nervous system dysfunction is primarily responsible for the increased pain sensitivity of FM

With these advances come the hope that a cause may be found and hence a cure, or at least more effective treatment.


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