Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic condition.

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Around 9 out of 10 people affected are women.  It can affect people of all ages but is more common in older people.

The condition name comes from the Latin word fibro; meaning fibrous tissues (tendons, ligaments), ‘my’ meaning muscles, and ‘algia’ meaning pain.  It used to be known as fibrositis, which literally meant inflammation of the muscles and soft tissue but was renamed fibromyalgia in the 1980s because studies found there is no inflammation or nerve injury.

Full recovery is very uncommon and the likelihood of recurrence is high. The condition is not necessarily physically weakening, and with good support and treatment it may not severely damage quality of life.  Fibromyalgia does not reduce life span.

There are a number of theories about what causes fibromyalgia such as change in sleep patterns, serotonin deficiency (lack of the mood and sleep regulating hormone), viral infection, psychological disturbances or trauma, altered pain perception, lack of growth hormone, lack of exercise, and others.

There may be multiple factors involved in the onset of the condition and no one ‘trigger’ has been identified.  However, research has shown that people with fibromyalgia tend to have disturbances in their deep sleep. There is also some evidence that certain brain chemicals are different in people with fibromyalgia.

Other sources of information for these topics.

Fibromyalgia Network
Patient educational material on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The National Fibromyalgia Association
Official Information for National Fibromyalgia Association's Web Site Description of NFA: A nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of ...

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