Fibromyalgia is a condition where abnormalities are seen in how pain signals are processed by the central nervous system (CNS). The main characteristics of fibromyalgia are chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, migraine, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bladder problems heightened pain response to pressure, numbness & tingling, and sensitivity to lights, sounds and temperatures. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also frequently associated with fibromyalgia, as is sensitivity to gluten.
Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect between 2% and 8% of the population, with females tending to be more affected than males. Both environmental and genetic factors are thought to cause fibromyalgia. Around 10 million people in the US are affected by fibromyalgia. Conditions that present themselves similarly to fibromyalgia are polymyalgia rheumatica, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and thyroid disease. People with fibromyalgia don’t necessarily have a shortened life expectancy, although other conditions connected to it may cause a decrease in life expectancy.
Treating fibromyalgia can be very difficult. Sufficient sleep, healthy diet and exercise are the most common courses of treatment. As for medications, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as duloxetine and milnacipran, and the CNS depressant pregabalin (Lyrica). Opioids are not recommended for fibromyalgia, and many claim that they do not necessarily work very well for the condition.