Alternate Names : Fibrositis
Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood condition that causes multiple tender
points, called trigger points, in the muscles and soft tissues of the body.
What is going on in the body?
People who have fibromyalgia have chronic, widespread pain and stiffness in the
muscles. Fatigue is a key factor in fibromyalgia. Some healthcare professionals
believe that fatigue may occur because the person doesn't get enough deep,
restful sleep. Others believe that the sleep disturbance may actually be a
cause of the fibromyalgia.
Recent research has shown that people who have fibromyalgia
have a decrease in blood flow to the parts of the brain involved with pain
perception. They also have two times the normal level of a brain chemical
known as substance P. This substance is involved in the transmission of pain
messages from nerve cells to the brain.
Fibromyalgia may occur alone, or together with other disorders such as
Lyme disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
No one knows for sure what causes fibromyalgia, but there are several theories.
Some possible causes of fibromyalgia include the following:
autoimmune disorders, or a condition in which the
body creates antibodies against its own tissues
endocrine abnormalities, which are problems with various glands in the
biochemical abnormalities in the central nervous system, such as the
elevated level of substance P in the brain
impaired blood flow to the brain
mechanical stresses to the cervical and lumbar spine
history of abuse as a
New research findings suggest that autoimmune disorders may be triggered by a transfer of cells between the fetus and the mother during pregnancy. The study involved women with scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder involving the skin. These women have more fetal cells in their blood decades after a pregnancy than women who don't have scleroderma. While further research is needed to substantiate these findings, the study does offer an explanation for the much higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in women than in men.
Women account for 75% of those who have the disease. It is most common
in women of childbearing age.