Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread muscle and soft tissue pain and tenderness, especially in the trunk, neck, and shoulders. The pain of fibromyalgia can often be severe enough to disrupt a person's daily work and activities, but symptoms can usually be controlled through a combination of exercise, sleep, stress management, and sometimes medicine.

Other symptoms that may occur with fibromyalgia include:

  • Pain at certain points on the body (called tender points).
  • Disturbed, unrestful sleep (especially frequent waking during the night).
  • Fatigue.
  • Morning stiffness.
  • Depression.

Experts do not know the exact cause of fibromyalgia. As with many conditions that cause chronic pain, depression, stress, and sleep problems are common in people with fibromyalgia and may make fibromyalgia symptoms worse.

Treatment for fibromyalgia focuses on breaking the cycle of pain and decreased physical activity. Home treatment, especially exercise and improving sleep, is usually most important. In some cases, medicine may be needed to help relieve pain and improve sleep problems.

Last Updated: October 21, 2009

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Richa Dhawan, MD - Rheumatology

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