Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood medical disorder that involves the experience of widespread pain in the muscles, joints, and tissues along with extra-musculoskeletal symptoms of sleep disturbances, memory problems, chronic fatigue, and issues related to mood.
There has been much research on this disorder. While the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, most researchers feel that fibromyalgia takes painful sensations experienced by the sufferer and amplifies them in the brain, resulting in the sensation of pain with even light touch.
In a sense, fibromyalgia is believed to be a brain disorder
caused by abnormal processing of pain signals by the brain.
- Fibromyalgia generally develops after a person has experienced some kind of physical trauma or has had surgery.
- Others develop the disorder following a great psychological stressor or following a minor infection.
- Still others do not have a dramatic shift from normal health to having fibromyalgia but instead have the symptoms develop gradually with no identifiable event causing the disease.
For reasons that are not completely clear, women have a greater chance of developing fibromyalgia when compared to men. Interestingly, those who have fibromyalgia also have a greater incidence of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ disease), tension-type headaches, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and anxiety disorders.
Fibromyalgia has no known cure although sufferers have used various types of medications to make the symptoms more tolerable. Non-medical therapies for fibromyalgia include reducing stress levels, relaxation, exercise, acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, and other alternative therapies.