Fibromyalgia (FM) formerly known as Fibrositis, is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain that is accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, and cognitive dysfunction. FM is caused by a dysfunction in the central nervous systems detection of and response to pain. As a result, the patient experiences an amplification of pain. Sleep disturbance in FM is a consequence of HPA axis dysfunction. The peripheral nervous system also appears to play a role in this condition.
Global prevalence of FM is estimated to be about 2.7% of the population. FM is more common in women with a female to male ratio of 3:1. While FM can develop at any age, in women it is most commonly diagnosed in middle age.
According to CDC, the annual cost of healthcare for FM patients is $9573 per patient. FM is the second most common rheumatic disorder after osteoarthritis. FM can have detrimental effects on patient’s lives and interfere with their work and personal relationships. According to a study, 35% of FM patients report difficulties in performing daily activities.
Fibromyalgia is a common and complex condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, accompanied by mood, memory, sleep, and fatigue issues. Studies show that fibromyalgia intensifies pain sensations by altering the way your brain processes pain signals. People suffering from this condition have “tender points” on their bodies. Tender points are localized areas of tenderness around the joint and are normally very painful. These tender points are also referred to as “pain points.” There is a total of 18 tender points (nine pairs) that are normally used in fibromyalgia diagnosis.
The tender points are usually not deep areas of pain; they are normally located right under your skin, such as the area over the shoulder or elbow. These points tend to be painful when put under pressure, such as when pressed with a finger. The pain points are also very small in size, just about the size of a penny. However, these points tend to be scattered over the knees, buttocks, hips, elbows, chest, back, and neck.
Who are Mostly Affected by Fibromyalgia?
According to the Office on Women’s Health, Fibromyalgia predominantly affects women. Evidence shows that up to 90 percent of those affected are female. While fibromyalgia can affect anyone including men and children, hormones are thought to be the reason behind this gender bias.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease states that about 2 percent of people in the United States are affected by Fibromyalgia—that’s about five million people. Of the five million, only 10 percent are male. That means fibromyalgia is about seven times more common in women than men. The condition is also more likely to develop in middle age and later than in childhood stages.