Fibromyalgia, also known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome or FMS, is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue.

It is said to affect around 2% of the adult population with women around 5-7 times more likely to be affected than men. The average age of onset is between 20 and 50 years old although it can also affect children. In children it affects boys and girls equally.

Symptoms that are likely to be seen in Fibromyalgia include:

  • Generalised ache all over body > 3 months
  • Hypersensitivity to both painful and non-painful stimuli
  • Muscles feel ‘pulled’ or overworked but no pain in joints themselves
  • Pain waxes and wanes
  • Chronic headaches
  • Disturbed cognitive function, known as ‘fibro fog’
  • Disrupted sleep / don’t feel rested
  • 18 Tender Points as identified by ACR (see below)
  • Associated conditions such as Irritable Bowel Sysndrome (IBS), Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Tempero-mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ Dusfunction)

The American College of Rheumatology identified in 1990, 18 areas of the body which are commonly tender in Fibromyalgia and this is still used today as one of the major diagnostic tools. If 11 of these 18 tender spots are present, a positive diagnosis of Fibromyalgia may be made:

More information can be found in the excellent book: Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Practitioners Guide to Treatment by Leon Chaitow.

An Update on Fibromyalgia by Dr Sean Mackay,Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at the Stanford University Medical Center:

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