General Information on FMS

The name Fibromyalgia was coined in the 1980"s to replace "fibrositis." By now, many hundreds of medical papers have been written on the subject and only diehard individuals continue to deny its existence. Typical symptoms, along with a cyclic progression from intermittently-normal to the eventually bad-to-worse periods, lead informed physicians to the diagnosis. There are no tests diagnostic of fibromyalgia but they are performed to exclude other diseases.

Patients are often told that they have chronic fatigue, chronic candidiasis, myofascial pain, irritable bowel or the vulvar pain syndromes when these are usually facets of the same illness. Combining some symptoms while ignoring others may simply 'create' a non-disease and miss the reality of fibromyalgia. Patients parade from one doctor to another but only symptoms germane to a given specialty may get the attention the much larger problem requires. Fibromyalgia has no fixed symptoms and many combinations are possible. Individual pain perception varies so greatly that high threshold individuals may lack any of the eleven-out-of-eighteen tender points required by the American Academy of Rheumatology for diagnosis. Patients may suffer overwhelming symptoms of fibromyalgia yet be falsely diagnosed with one of the above pseudo-syndromes for lack of typical tenderness. Many FMS sufferers urge physicians to make body maps to provide meaningful, objective evidence instead of seeking the subjective tender points that may be absent.

Fibromyalgia is believed to be inherited. Trauma, infection or stress can aggravate fibromyalgia but are only rarely its cause. Careful questioning can unveil the cyclic, telltale symptoms that begin much earlier than patients suspect, often presented as growing pains in childhood. Symptoms may ease during the true growth spurt of puberty but eventually reappear with progressive intensity. Children have been treated whose symptoms only began in their seventies, an age spread that strongly suggests a multi-genetic disease. More than 80 percent of patients are women. Joint complaints long precede any discernible X-ray damage. It's believed that fibromyalgia, if neglected, ultimately leads to osteoarthritis, the 'tartar of joints'.

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