What are the symptoms of rheumatism
What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome
and what are the Symptoms?
Fibromyalgia (fi-bro-my-AL-ja) Syndrome (FMS) is defined by the existence of chronic, often full-body pain accompanied by a variety of additional symptoms. Typically, patients experience widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and pain in the tendons and ligaments. Sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome, numbness and tingling sensations, skin sensitivities, dysmenorrhea, dry eyes and mouth, and anxiety often accompany these symptoms. With the diversity and complexity of these symptoms, fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed, leaving sufferers frustrated and confused.
People who suffer from fibromyalgia often describe the pain as the aches associated with a bad bout of the flu. The pain is usually worse in the morning and in the muscles that are used repetitively. While FMS is not damaging to the muscles, the pain felt within them does not go away. In order to be diagnosed with FMS, patients must experience pain in eleven of the eighteen designated "tender points" -- localized areas including the neck, spine, shoulders and hips. One of the reasons FMS is often overlooked as a possible cause of pain is that patients may not experience pain in all eleven of the eighteen tender points on a given day. Repeated testing is often necessary.
In addition to the muscle pain experienced, patients often describe overwhelming fatigue, in which they feel totally
devoid of energy. This incapacitating fatigue leads many doctors to incorrectly diagnose FMS sufferers with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which has a significant amount of overlapping symptoms. The sleep disorder known as alpha-EEG anomaly is prevalent in FMS patients. This condition is defined by interruption of deep sleep by awake-like brain activity. Additionally, FMS patients experience sleep disorders such as sleep myoclonus (nighttime jerking of the arms and legs), restless leg syndrome and teeth grinding.
According to the diagnostic criteria for Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) published by the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR), Fibromyalgia patients must have:
1. Widespread pain in all four quadrants of their body for a minimum of three months.
2. At least 11 of the 18 specific tender points (see diagram).
Although the above criteria, created for research purposes, focuses on tender point count, a recent consensus of 35 FMS experts has determined that a person does not need to have the required 11 tender points to be diagnosed and treated for FMS.
Many people who have less than 11 of the required tender points may still be diagnosed with FMS as long as they have widespread pain and many of the common symptoms associated with FMS. Commonly associated symptoms inlcude: