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What you should know about Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia research has not uncovered evidence of autoimmunity; however, many of us with autoimmune disorders have fibromyalgia. Having an autoimmune condition puts you at a higher risk for developing fibromyalgia.

"Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS) is characterised by chronic widespread pain and allodynia (a heightened and painful response to pressure).[1] Fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain, leading to the use of the alternative term fibromyalgia syndrome for the condition. Other symptoms include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some people also report difficulty with swallowing, bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling,and cognitive dysfunction. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety and stress-related disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder. Not all people with fibromyalgia experience all associated symptoms." source

It is important for you to know the “markers” with which doctors diagnose you. The diagnosis is made by a physical exam of pressure points that takes about five minutes. When light pressure is applied to the surface of the muscles throughout the body, patients with fibromyalgia find this painful, especially at the specific tender point areas used for diagnosis.

The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

There is no blood test for fibromyalgia making this a frustrating condition. There are 18 trigger points. You must have at least 11 of them to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Back of the neck

If you have fibromyalgia, you may have tender points at the back of the neck, where the base of the skull and the neck meet.

Neck pain can also be caused by injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, or activities that strain the neck, like slouching or sleeping in an uncomfortable position.

Elbows

Fibromyalgia patients may also feel tenderness on their forearms, near the crease of each elbow. The pain tends to be below the crease and toward the outer side of the arm.

Other causes of elbow pain can include tendonitis or repetitive strain injuries.

Front of the neck

In addition to the back of the neck, doctors will check potential fibromyalgia patients for pain at the front of the neck.

This pair of trigger points is located well above the collarbone, on either side of the larynx.

Hips

Hip pain is common in those with osteoarthritis, but people with arthritis tend to feel it in the joint.

In contrast, people with fibromyalgia may have a tender point near where the buttock muscles curve to join the thighs.

Lower back

The lower back is one of the most common body parts to be the source of pain. Overall, more than 1 in 4 U.S. adults has experienced low back pain.

However, people with fibromyalgia may have pain trigger points at the very top of the buttocks, right at the bottom of the lower back.

Knees

While knee trouble is common in people with fibromyalgia, the inside of each knee pad may feel tender to the touch.

Rear of the knees

Upper back

Tender points are often sites on the body where tendons and muscles meet.

Such is the case for this pair of tender points, located where the back muscles connect to the shoulder blades in the upper back.

Shoulders

In addition to tenderness in the upper back, some people with fibromyalgia have tender points just above that, halfway between the edge of the shoulder and the bottom of the neck.

Chest

People with fibromyalgia may have tender points on either side of the sternum, a few inches below the collarbone (near the second rib).

The sternum, also known as the breastbone, helps protect the heart and lungs.

Read more and see a slideshow here.