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Fibromyalgia is a condition characterized by widespread pain and tenderness to the touch. Some researchers believe that changes in the brain are responsible for the increased sensitivity to pain that is associated with fibromyalgia. There is some debate regarding whether this is a distinct diagnosis, or part of the spectrum of chronic pain syndromes.


Pain may be constant, chronic and widespread. Other symptoms commonly associated with fibromyalgia are fatigue, waking unrefreshed, depression, anxiety and memory problems. Numbness and tingling, weakness, urinary frequency, diarrhea and constipation may be present, as well.


Fibromyalgia is diagnosed on the following: widespread pain and the persistence of severe symptoms for at least 3 months, and the absence of any other identifiable disorder or disease that would explain the symptoms. Previous criteria include a positive tender point examination which may lend support to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia rather than chronic pain syndrome. During an examination, your physician will evaluate the pain and other symptoms you are experiencing to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. Although there are no accepted lab tests to confirm fibromyalgia, a full laboratory workup may be recommended to rule out other conditions, especially when symptoms overlap.


Active rehabilitation offers the best management of symptoms and improvement in quality of life. Aerobic exercise and strength training have been found to reduce symptoms and water exercise is often very helpful. Prescriptions for fibromyalgia typically include antidepressants and seizure medications, as well as medicines for sleep interference, fatigue and pain. Narcotics have not been proven effective. New medications specific to fibromyalgia are becoming available, however the cost for these drugs may be high. While there is currently no definitive treatment that will cure fibromyalgia, studies have shown that with appropriate treatments such as physical rehabilitation, psychological interventions and education, it is not a disabling condition.