Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by sleeplessness, excessive sleeping, memory and emotional issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies pain sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome (INS), anxiety and depression are also associated with fibromyalgia. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures may help.

A very painful condition

The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a perpetual dull ache, most time coming from muscles. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist. Fibromyalgia is characterized by additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of your body, called tender points. Tender point locations include:

  • Rear of the skull
  • Between shoulder blades
  • Top of shoulders
  • Front sides of neck
  • Near the collar bone
  • Outside area of elbows
  • Upper part of hips
  • Sides of hips
  • The eye of the knees
  • Fatigue and sleep disturbances

People with fibromyalgia often awaken drained and not refreshed, even though they report sleeping for long time. Sleep is frequently disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, and those conditions that can worsen their quality of life.

Coexisting conditions

Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Endometriosis
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome