Fibromyalgia: Definition, Stages, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, and heightened sensitivity to touch. While the exact cause of it is not fully understood. It can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. So in this article we will delve into the symptoms, potential causes and strategies for managing fibromyalgia. For more research you can also visit Wikipedia.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a frequent cause of long-lasting widespread muscle and joint pain. In the United States, about 5 million adults aged 18 years or older have it. Research indicates that females are more prone to fibromyalgia than males. Having experienced a traumatic injury, having conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or other autoimmune disorder such as lupus, and genetic factors can raise the risk of developing it.

What are the Stages of Fibromyalgia?

This is a dynamic condition. This means you won’t experience symptoms in any specific order; there’s no roadmap to know when or how fibromyalgia symptoms will affect you. Your provider might treat your fibromyalgia in stages based on how you feel. These stages aren’t step by step treatment plans. Every person is different and how fibromyalgia affects your body will be unique. The stages are more like loose categories that can help you understand which treatments you’ll need to manage your symptoms. There are four stages of fibromyalgia include:

  • Non-pharmacological
  • Psychological
  • Pharmacological
  • Daily functioning

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

The primary symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

Widespread Pain:

The hallmark symptoms of fibromyalgia is widespread pain that affects various parts of the body. This pain is often described as a consultant dull ache and may be accompanied by muscle stiffness.


Individuals with fibromyalgia often experience persistent fatigue even after a full night’s sleep. This fatigue can be overwhelming and interfere with daily activities.

Sleep Disturbances:

Sleep disorders are common in fibromyalgia including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling unrefreshed.

Cognitive Difficulties:

Some people with fibromyalgia experience cognitive challenges often referred to as fibro fog. This may involve difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and a sense of mental fogginess.

Heightened Sensitivity:

Individuals with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive to stimuli such as bright lights, loud noises, and certain odors. This heightened sensitivity can contribute to discomfort.

Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other conditions such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Migraine and other types of headaches
  • Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome

The most common fibromyalgia symptoms include:

  • Joint and muscles stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Difficulties with memory and concentration, known as “fibro fog”

The following may also occur:

  • Problems with vision
  • Nausea
  • Pelvic and urinary issues
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Dizziness
  • Skin problems
  • Cold or flu
  • Chest symptoms
  • Post traumatic stress disorders
  • Breathing problems

Symptoms of fibromyalgia can show up at any point in a person’s life, but they tend to be most frequent between the ages of 30 and 50.

What are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?

Many researchers believe that repeated nerve stimulation causes the brain and spinal cord of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain. In addition the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become sensitized, meaning they can overreact to painful and nonpainful signals. They are likely many factors that lead to these changes including:


Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.


Some illnesses appear to trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.

Physical or Emotional Events:

Fibromyalgia can sometimes be triggered by a physical event, such as a car accident. Prolonged psychological stress may also trigger the condition.

What are the Risk Factors of Fibromyalgia?

Risk factors of fibromyalgia include:

Your Sex:

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more often in women than in men.

Family History:

You may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a parent or sibling also has the condition.

Other Disorders:

If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

What is the Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia?

In the past doctors would check 18 specific points on a person’s body to see how many of them were painful when pressed firmly. Newer guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology don’t require a tender point exam. Instead the main factor needed for a fibromyalgia diagnosis is widespread pain throughout your body for at least three months. To meet the criteria you must have pain in at least four of these five areas:

  • Left upper region, including shoulder, arm or jaw.
  • Right upper region, including shoulder, arm or jaw.
  • Left lower region, including hip, buttock or leg.
  • Right lower region, including hip, buttock or leg.
  • Axial region, which includes neck, back, chest or abdomen.

Confirming a diagnosis of fibromyalgia take a while because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions like:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Lyme disease

Before diagnosing fibromyalgia, a doctor has to eliminate these other conditions. There aren’t any specific lab tests for fibromyalgia, which can cause delays in getting diagnosed or even a wrong diagnosis. The American College of Rheumatology set up three rules for diagnosing fibromyalgia:

  • The person must have had pain and other symptoms for a week, along with fatigue, bad sleep, or thinking problems.
  • These symptoms should have been around for at least 3 months.
  • There shouldn’t be any other health problem that would explain these symptoms.

What is the Treatment of Fibromyalgia?

In general treatments for it include both medications and self-care strategies. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms but trying a variety of treatment strategies can have a cumulative effect.


Medications can help reduce the pain and improve sleep. Common choices include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure drugs


A variety of different therapies can help reduce the effect that it has on your body and your life. Examples include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Counseling


Self-care is critical in the management of it. Such as:

Stress Management:

Develop a plan to avoid or limit overexertion and emotional stress. Allow yourself time each day to relax. That may mean learning how to say no without guilt. But try not to change your routine completely. People who quit work or drop all activity tend to do worse than those who remain active. Try stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercise or medication.

Sleep Hygiene:

Because fatigue is one of the main components of it, getting good quality sleep is essential. In addition to allocating enough time for sleep, practice good sleep habits, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and limiting daytime napping.

Exercise Regularly:

At first exercise may increase your pain. But doing it gradually and regularly often decreased symptoms. Exercise may include walking, swimming, biking, and water aerobics. A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program. Stretching good posture and relaxation exercises also are helpful.

Pace Yourself:

Keep your activity on an even level. If you do too much on your good days you may have more bad days. Moderation means not overdoing it on your good days, but likewise it means not self-limiting or doing too little on the days when symptoms flare.

Maintain Healthy Lifestyle:

Eat healthy foods. Don’t use tobacco products. Limit your caffeine intake. Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.

What are the Tests of Fibromyalgia?

Your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
  • Rheumatoid factor
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Antinuclear antibody
  • Celiac serology
  • Vitamin D

If there’s a chance that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend an overnight sleep study.

What are the Complications of Fibromyalgia?

The pain, fatigue and poor sleep quality associated with fibromyalgia can interfere with your ability to function at home or on the job. The frustration of dealing with an often-misunderstood condition also can result in depression and health related anxiety. Individuals with fibromyalgia may also be more likely to experience related conditions, such as:

  • IBS
  • Painful menstruation
  • RA
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Depression
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Lack of sleep
  • Anxiety

What are the Tender Points of Fibromyalgia?

In the past doctors used to diagnose fibromyalgia by assessing tender points. However, healthcare professionals no longer rely on tender points for diagnosis. Tender points are specific areas of the body where individuals with fibromyalgia often experience intense pain. These areas include:

  • The back of the head
  • Inner knees
  • Outer elbows
  • Neck and shoulders
  • The outer hips
  • The upper chest

Doctors used to diagnose it by assessing how a person responds to pressure at these points. However, doctors no longer consider this method reliable for diagnosing the condition and no longer use tender points as a reliable indicator of fibromyalgia.

What are the Alternative and Home Remedies of Fibromyalgia?

Besides taking medication, other things like alternative treatments and home remedies might help people deal with fibromyalgia symptoms. Such as:

  • Exercise
  • Acupuncture 
  • Psychotherapy 
  • Eating high energy foods that are low in sugar 
  • Removing foods that have gluten 
  • Avoiding fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP)
  • Avoiding additives and excitotoxins 

What to Know About Fibromyalgia in Men?

Fibromyalgia is when someone has a lot of pain in their muscles and bones, has trouble sleeping, feels tired all the time, and might have mood issues. Doctors think it happens more in women, but men can get it too, and they might have different problems. There hasn’t been much research on men with fibromyalgia, so it’s hard to know exactly how many men have it compared to women. Some groups say for every one man with fibromyalgia, there are eight or more women with it. But others suggest that about 30% of people with fibromyalgia could be men. Because many people think fibromyalgia is mainly a problem for women, it might be tough for men to get diagnosed with it. Even though some experts think around 1.5 million men in the United States might have it. In this article, we’ll talk about how to spot signs of fibromyalgia in men and what to do about the symptoms. 

What are the Risk Factors of Fibromyalgia in Men?

Fibromyalgia affects about 2% of adults in the U.S. This means around 4 millions people have it, according to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). Some people are more likely to get it than others. Gender is the biggest factor, but other things can play a role too:

  • If someone has had rheumatic diseases like lupus before. 
  • It they’re had mood or depressive disorders in the past. 
  • If fibromyalgia runs in their family, especially among close relatives. 

What are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Men?

Fibromyalgia symptoms might show up differently in men compared to women. People used to think that men had milder symptoms than women, but recent studies suggest that symptoms can be just as widespread and severe in both genders. A report from 2017 found that men with fibromyalgia might be less likely to see a doctor than women. They might also feel ashamed or judge when they talk about their symptoms, like feeling tired or having muscle pains. Because of this, men might struggle more to get help from their employers if they need to take time off work because of it. And if a man is the main earner in a family, it could affect the whole family. Symptoms of fibromyalgia in men can range from mild to very bad. They might include:

  • Pain and tenderness 
  • Feeling tired all the time 
  • Stiff muscles in the morning 
  • Stomach problems like irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Having trouble thinking clearly (brain fog) 
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sad or hopeless (depression)   

What is the Diagnosis of Fibromyalgia in Men?

To be diagnosed with it, someone has to have widespread pain for over 3 months, and there shouldn’t be any other clear reason for the pain. For men with fibromyalgia, it can be hard to get diagnosed because doctors need to make sure it’s not something else causing the symptoms. There aren’t any specific tests to say someone has fibromyalgia, but doctors might do blood tests and scans to rule out other problems. Some doctors might wrongly think that fibromyalgia is only a problem for women, so they might hesitate to diagnose it in men. 

What is the Treatment of Fibromyalgia in Men?

Treating it involves using both medication and taking care of oneself. While fibromyalgia can’t be fully cured, many of its symptoms can be relieved. Medications can help with sleep issues and tiredness, which are often seen in people with it.


Medication treatment for it might involve:

  • Antidepressant: Some antidepressants can help reduce pain sensitivity and improve sleep. 
  • Anti Seizure Medications: Drugs typically used for epilepsy can also help ease and lower pain levels. 
  • Naltrexone: In small doses, a medication called naltrexone, which blocks opioids may help with pain relief. 
  • Pain Killers: They like opioids haven’t been proven to help with symptoms. It’s best to avoid them because they can lead to dependency.

Self Care:

Taking care of oneself is crucial in treating it. Men with it should be actively involved in self-care. There are certain changes to lifestyle that can help men with it manage their symptoms better, including:

  • Getting enough sleep 
  • Exercise 
  • Eating a healthful diet 
  • Managing stress 
  • Recognizing limits 


What is the root cause of fibromyalgia?

The cause of it is not known, but studies show that people with the disorder have a heightened sensitivity to pain so they feel pain when others do not.

What organ does it affect?

It was formerly classified as an inflammatory musculoskeletal disease but is now considered to be an illness that primarily affects the central nervous system.

What food helps fibromyalgia?

  • Almonds
  • Macadamia
  • Walnuts
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Whole grain foods such as wheat, rice, barely, oats, and quinoa
  • Fresh or frozen fruits
  • Flaxseed oil and olive oils
  • Flaxseed tofu, and chia seeds

Is milk good for fibromyalgia?

It may help to limit excess dairy intake. This is because many dairy products contain saturated fat. People should try to opt for low fat versions or dairy alternatives such as soy milk. It may also help to limit the consumption of red meat.

Can I eat eggs if I have fibromyalgia?

A lot of people with it have sensitivities to particular foods, but it varies from person to person. Liptan tells WebMD. They might be sensitive to MSG, certain preservatives, eggs, gluten, dairy or other common allergens.

Is fibromyalgia forever?

It doesn’t have a cure, but you can manage its symptoms. Simple changes like reducing stress or adjusting your lifestyle might help if it’s not too severe. For more serious cases, working with a healthcare team could be the best way to treat it.

Can fibromyalgia go away all of a sudden?

The symptoms of it can change-they might get better or worse unexpectedly. If you suspect you have fibromyalgia it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Treatment can help with some symptoms, although they may not completely go away. 

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