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By Mayo Clinic Staff

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.

While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, a variety of medications can help control symptoms. Exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures also may help.

Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms, or tightness

Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy

Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep

Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long

Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks (“fibro fog”)

Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)

Tension or migraine headaches

Jaw and facial tenderness

Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
Feeling anxious or depressed

Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet

Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)

Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise

A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet

Fibromyalgia symptoms may intensify depending on the time of day — morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the worst times. Symptoms may also get worse with fatigue, tension, inactivity, changes in the weather, cold or drafty conditions, overexertion, hormonal fluctuations (such as just before your period or during menopause), stress, depression, or other emotional factors.

If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur.


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