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What Is Fibromyalgia?

What is fibromyalgia?† It's a disease that's not only difficult to say, it's difficult to diagnose, and even more difficult to treat.† But for the thousands of women living with this condition, it's simply difficult to tolerate.

Women with fibromyalgia have a diffuse pain syndrome characterized by patterns of muscular tenderness on both sides of the body called "trigger points."† Sometimes the condition can begin for no apparent reason.† In other situations, fibromyalgia arises as a result of chronic sleep deprivation, viral infections, Lyme disease, arthritis, hypothyroidism or other conditions.

Women with fibromyalgia also report a host of other symptoms including tension or migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, PMS, jaw pain, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and memory disturbances.† Many women also report "flare-ups," which can be associated with the menstrual cycle.†

Interestingly, pain medicines are not generally effective to treat fibromyalgia, but antidepressants are moderately helpful.† Other treatment mainstays are reassurance, increasing nightly sleep, aerobic exercise, massage, and a healthy diet.† In women with decreased ovarian function or premature menopause and fibromyalgia, estrogen therapy has been anecdotally reported to help.

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Created: 4/16/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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