Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition. It causes pain and tenderness in connective tissues and muscles. Often, there are also many tender areas throughout the body. Symptoms may also include stiffness and feelings of numbness and tingling. Symptoms may be worse upon waking up. They may increase with poor sleep, heavy activity, cold or damp weather, anxiety, or stress.
People with fibromyalgia often feel tired. They may have trouble sleeping. Other symptoms include morning stiffness, headaches, and painful menstrual periods. Some people have problems with thinking clearly and changes in memory.
The cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Symptoms are similar to that of other diseases. These include rheumatoid arthritis, low thyroid, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Lyme disease. In some cases, these diseases may occur together.
Fibromyalgia is often treated with medicines. You and your healthcare provider can discuss the medicine that may work best for you. You may have to try more than one medicine or combination of medicines before you find what works for you.
If your healthcare provider has prescribed or recommended medicines, take them as directed.
Rest as needed. Try to get enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Be active. Regular exercise can help manage symptoms. Some options include walking, swimming, and biking. Strengthening and aerobic exercises may also be helpful. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best ways to be active.
Follow a healthy diet. Limit caffeine and alcohol. If you smoke, ask your healthcare provider for help to stop.
Notice how your body reacts to stress. Learn to listen to your body signals. This will help you take action before the stress becomes severe.
Learn relaxation techniques. Also consider joining a stress reduction program or class.
Talk to your healthcare provider about trying complementary treatments. These include acupuncture, hypnosis, and biofeedback. Yoga and tai chi may be helpful.
Ask your healthcare provider about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of counseling can help people with fibromyalgia cope better with their illness.
Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. In many cases, fibromyalgia is best treated with a team approach. This may involve your primary care provider, a rheumatologist, a physical therapist, and a mental health professional.
For more information, visit the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) website at www.niams.nih.gov or call 877-226-4267.
When to seek medical advice
Contact your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Symptoms get worse or new symptoms develop
You feel hopeless, helpless, or lose interest in day-to-day life