This is the Mayo Clinic's definition of fibromyalgia:
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.
© 1998-2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.
I'm pretty convinced that my fibro was triggered by two back-to-back pregnancies (age 38 & 39). The births were great, but the second pregnancy was rough on my body. My symptoms kicked in around mid-August after my son was born in May and just continue to get worse. I went to several doctors (primary, rheumatologist, gynecologist, naturopath), had every blood test I could, and, by exclusion of everything else, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
There are "trigger points" identified as typical fibro pain spots. I have many of them. For me, the fibro reveals itself in very sore fingers & hands, wrists, inner elbows, hips, lower back, ankles and feet. It's usually painful for me to just be touched in my arms, thighs and calves (ie: a leg rub sends me through the ceiling). And on bad days, my hands look like ham hocks. To say that fibromyalgia is a downer, is an understatement. While I'm on an anti-depressant to help with pain management, depression ebbs and flows with me and is unpredictable. It's hard to feel like a good parent with fibro because it hurts for my kids to hold my hand or to jump around on me when we're playing. That adds to the depressed feeling.
What makes it all feel worse is that fibromyalgia continues to be this "unknown" with the medical profession. While it is defined, there's no real way to diagonose it (no blood test or MRI), there's no real reason for it, and there's no cure. So, even though I was "diagnosed," I still get a lot of "why don't you go to a different doctor?" and "did they test for XXX?" So there's always this sense that it's in my head or that I should be doing something else about this cronic pain. I don't really talk about it much with my family or friends because it's so hard to explain how much it impacts my life. So there is a strange loneliness that accompanies fibro as well.
The symptoms are very real. It hurts. Nothing seems to work and, since it's not life-threatening, there isn't a lot of research being done to find a cure for it. Working on adjusting my diet to help manage it. I definitely need to sleep more & better, and drink more water. Hopefully, I can find some good techniques for managing the pain and I will share with other fibro sufferers. Until then...please be nice and gentle to anyone who tells you they have fibromyalgia.