Definition and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Analyzing the term fibromyalgia, we realize that this term refers to pain in the muscles and connective tissue. Fibromyalgia patients suffer from chronic, widespread pain, and tenderness that last for more 3 months. Pain extends to both sides of the body, above and below the waist, including the spine.
The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia, in addition to pain, include fatigue, mood disorders, sleep disturbance, and cognitive dysfunction, sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”.
Furthermore, patients may experience cold or heat intolerance, inability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, anger, headaches, dizziness, balance disorders, stiffness, tingling in hands and feet, muscle spasms, incontinence, or restless legs syndrome.

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The causes of fibromyalgia remain unknown. Since there is no single cause of fibromyalgia, the scientific community classifies it as a syndrome rather than a disease.
It is thought that a complex interaction between societal, biological, and psychological causes leads to the fibromyalgia syndrome. The syndrome may be exacerbated by infections, psychological trauma, and recurrent traumas.
Additionally, it appears that those who have hepatitis C as well as other rheumatic diseases (such as osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) run a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia. The common feature of all of the above is systemic and chronic inflammation.
The syndrome can also occur as a result of numerous environmental factors, e.g., smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.



The diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia syndrome include:

  • Widespread pain rated 7 or higher on the Widespread Pain Index (WPI) and 5 or higher on the Symptom Severity Scale (SS scale), or a combination of 3 to 6 on the WPI and from 9 and up on the SS scale.
  • Symptoms last for at least 3 months
  • The pain cannot be attributed to another disorder


The WPI records the number of areas where the patient felt pain over the past week. The score recorded ranges between 0 and 19. The areas considered are:

  • Shoulder, right and left
  • Upper arm, right and left
  • Lower arm, right and left
  • Hip, right and left
  • Upper leg, right and left
  • Lower leg, right and left
  • Jaw, right and left side
  • Abdomen
  • Sternum
  • Upper back, right and left side
  • Lower back, right and left side
  • Neck
    In addition, the SS scale records levels of fatigue, sleep, and cognitive function over the past week, based on the following:
    0 = No problems
    1 = Mild problems
    2 = Moderate problems
    3 = Serious problems
    The same method is used to record some symptoms that are more general, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, numbness, fatigue, anxiety, fever, dry mouth, and others. The final score on the SS scale ranges from 0 to 12.

Treatment Options

Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are a number of pain management options available. A multidisciplinary approach is essential for efficient relief, requiring the cooperation of a group of scientists from various fields.

Drug Therapies

Scientifically tested drug therapies focus on pain alleviation and improving mood and sleep quality. Because the symptoms are so complicated, there are many different types of drugs that can be used to treat them, including regular analgesics, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants.


Patient lifestyle changes

A patient’s lifestyle plays an important role in fibromyalgia pain relief.
Patient are often advised to reduce daytime sleepiness, abstain from caffeine before night, maintain regular bedtimes, and avoid eating and exercising just before bedtime to improve their sleep quality.
Another key element in reducing pain is physical fitness. Fibromyalgia patients are advised to engage in frequent aerobic activity, including water aerobics, yoga, swimming, cycling, and strength training.
Additionally, a fibromyalgia patient’s condition can be improved by eating high-fiber foods, restricting alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking, and lowering stress levels.

Adjunct and alternative treatments

Adjunct and alternative treatments for fibromyalgia include:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Biofeedbacκ
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    The aforementioned therapies appear to be effective in reducing pain, and cognitive-behavioral therapy also helps to address a patient’s depression.