Fibromyalgia is a name given to a common group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness. Although the cause of fibromyalgia is not yet known, research suggests that it is the result of the body becoming extra sensitive to pain due to an overactive pain system. Unlike various forms of arthritis, sufferers of fibromyalgia tend not to experience any inflammation or damage to the painful areas.
The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
- Pain - which usually involves aching, stiffness and tiredness of muscles
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- Poor sleep
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Irritable bowel (diarrhoea, stomach pain)
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can either be very mild or serve and may come and go at different times. With the right advice and professional input many people find that they are able to manage their pain and tiredness over time.
Currently the cause of fibromyalgia is not known (idiopathic). For many people the condition starts without any obvious cause making it difficult to diagnose. There are no blood tests or scans that can test for fibromyalgia so doctors tend to look at a number of signs that are common amongst patients, such as, widespread pain and tenderness of the body lasting more than three months.
Although no cause is yet know, fibromyalgia tends to be more common amongst people who have:
How can fibromyalgia be treated?
There are many ways in which the symptoms of the condition can be treated. These include:
- Staying active
- Balancing activity and rest; and
- Keeping a healthy weight.
For more information on fibromyalgia download the Arthritis Australia information sheets on the condition and exercise and fibromyalgia.
What can I do?
Not all the information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your doctor or healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. Reliable sources of further information are also listed in the section below.
Arthritis Queensland provides information, education and support for people with fibromyalgia. Call the free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak to one of the health educators or visit our website for more information on fibromyalgia and other arthritic conditions.
The ME/CFS/FM Support Association Queensland Inc. provides support, information and the opportunity for sufferers of fibromyalgia to network and share experiences with other sufferers through there various initiatives and resources. For more information visit there website at http://www.mecfsfmq.org.au/ or phone on (07) 4632 8173
To find a physiotherapist, ask your doctor or call the Australian Physiotherapy Association on 1300 306 622 or use the ‘find a physio’ feature at www.physiotherapy.asn.au
To find an occupational therapist, ask your doctor or call Occupational Therapy Australia on 1300 682 878 or use the ‘find and OT’ feature at www.otaus.com.au
To find a psychologist, ask your doctor or contact the Australian Psychological Society on 1800 333 497 or visit there website at www.psychology.org.au
Arthritis Research UK www.arthritisresearchuk.org
American college of Rheumatology www.rheumatology.org
Arthritis Foundation (US) www.arthritis.org
Fibromyalgia Network (US) www.fmnetnew.com
The Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network www.rheumatoidarthritis.org