The word fibromyalgia comes from the Latin term for fibrous tissue (fibro) and the Greek one for muscle (myo) and pain (algia). Fibromyalgia syndrome is chronic disorder which includes widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points that affects millions all over the world.
According to experts, fibromyalgia is defined as a history of pain in all four quadrants of the body lasting more than 3 months. Pain in all four quadrants means that you have pain in both your right and left sides, as well as above and below the waist. Experts also describe 18 characteristic tender points on the body that are associated with fibromyalgia. In order to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a person must have 11 or more tender points. In addition to pain and fatigue, people who have fibromyalgia may experience:
* sleep disturbances
* morning stiffness
* irritable bowel syndrome
* painful menstrual periods
* numbness or tingling of the extremities
* restless legs syndrome
* temperature sensitivity
* cognitive and memory problems
Fibromyalgia is often confused with another condition called “myofascial pain syndrome” or “myofascitis.” Both fibromyalgia and myofascitis can cause pain in all four quadrants of the body and tend to have similar tender point locations, but the two conditions are worlds apart.
Myofascitis is an inflammatory condition due to overuse or injury to your muscles, whereas fibromyalgia is caused by a stress-induced change in metabolism and healing. Myofascitis tend to come on rather suddenly and is usually associated with a particular activity or injury, true fibromyalgia has a slow, insidious onset, usually beginning in early adulthood.
It is very important to diagnose each of these correctly, because they require very different approaches to treatment.