Introduction of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome, is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body.

Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness. People with fibromyalgia may also have:

Read more information about the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact causes are not known, but there are certain changes in the way the body functions which have been noticed in people with fibromyalgia, including:

  • disturbed pain messages
  • low levels of hormones
  • sleep problems

However, it is not clear what causes these changes in the first place and how they lead to fibromyalgia.

Read more about the causes of fibromyalgia.

Who is affected?

It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects nearly 1 in 20 people worldwide. In England and Wales, there could be up to 1.76 million adults with the condition.

Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, although it affects more women than men. In most cases, fibromyalgia develops between 30 and 60 years of age, but it can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly.

Fibromyalgia can be a difficult condition to diagnose because there is no specific test and the symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. Diagnosis is usually based on your symptoms and tests to rule out other conditions.

Read more information about diagnosing fibromyalgia.

How is fibromyalgia treated?

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia. Symptoms are usually permanent, although they can vary in severity. However, there are a number of treatments that may ease symptoms and make the condition easier to live with. Treatment tends to be a combination of:

  • medicines – such as antidepressants and painkillers
  • talking therapies – such as counselling
  • lifestyle changes – such as better sleeping habits and relaxation

In particular, exercise has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including helping to reduce pain.

Read more information about treating fibromyalgia and advice on self-help for fibromyalgia.

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