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Fibromyalgia is a highly misunderstood disease that affects about 10 million Americans, mainly women. Even though this disease is so prevalent, much of it remains a mystery to doctors. Because the details of this disease still remain largely unknown, and because it is so complex, this topic will be broken up into two parts, each with its own article. This article will focus on defining the disease as well as listing some common symptoms.

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which the affected individual experiences musculoskeletal pain throughout the body. This pain is accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. The symptoms vary widely from individual to individual, with some experiencing symptoms at different times than others. Even the type or intensity of the pain can vary significantly from one person to the next: some experience pain only in certain places in the body while others experience it throughout. Affected individuals can feel a variety of different types of pain, including burning, shooting, tingling, and numbness. In addition to pain, fatigue also affects these individuals. This pain and fatigue can interfere with day-to-day activities and prevent the affected individuals from leading a normal lifestyle.

Fibromyalgia leads to aches and pains in all parts of the body.

Image Source: Terry Vine

Despite all these symptoms, doctors have no way of diagnosing this condition through blood tests; thus, they can only rely on the patient telling them where the pain is.  This can make it hard to diagnose fibromyalgia. While there is no clear physiological cause for fibromyalgia, doctors believe that it is likely a combination of genetics, emotional or physical trauma, and infections. The pain is believed to be caused by repeated nerve stimulation, which leads to a change in the brain increasing the quantity of chemicals that are sensitive to pain. Risk factors have been identified, including gender (women have a higher chance of having fibromyalgia than men), family history, and the presence of an existing rheumatic disease (affects your joints and muscles) such as lupus (chronic, inflammatory disease that affects joints and muscles) or arthritis. As can be seen from this, fibromyalgia is still in its infancy in terms of being medically understood. Part II of this topic will go over treatment options as well as research that is currently being done on fibromyalgia.

Feature Image Source: geralt

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