Greater Washington
Arthritis, Rheumatology and Osteoporosis Center


Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, Cognitive difficulties and mood issues. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, however it most likely involves a variety of factors working together including Genetics, Infections, physical or emotional trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder has been linked to fibromyalgia, however in some patient’s symptoms gradually accumulate with no single triggering event. It is more common in women than men; it is usually being associated with tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and anxiety. There are many medications that can help control symptoms, however exercise, relaxation and stress reduction measures also may help. 


Why does it hurt?

It is believed that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Risk factors for fibromyalgia include, sex, family history and rheumatic disease. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.

You may see several doctors before receiving this diagnosis because many of the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to various other disorders. Before you see us, you may want to write a list that includes, detailed descriptions of your symptoms, information about medical problems you've had in the past, family history, all the medications and dietary supplements you take 

Tests and diagnosis

New guidelines don't require a tender point exam. Instead, a fibromyalgia diagnosis can be made if a person has had widespread pain for more than three months with no underlying medical condition that could cause the pain. While there is no lab test to confirm a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, your doctor may want to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. Blood tests may include but not limited to Complete blood count, Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, Anti-Nuclear Antibody test and Thyroid function tests.


In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms. Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include: Pain relievers, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs. Talking with a counselor can help strengthen your belief in your abilities and teach you strategies for dealing with stressful situations.

Self-care is critical in the management of fibromyalgia. We recommend to Reduce stress, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, peace yourself and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Complementary and alternative therapies for pain and stress managing include acupuncture, massage therapy, Yoga and tai chi. 

Coping and support 

Besides dealing with the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, you also may have to deal with the frustration of having a condition that's often misunderstood. In addition to educating yourself about fibromyalgia, you may find it helpful to provide your family, friends and co-workers with information. It's also helpful to know that you're not alone. Organizations such as the National Fibromyalgia Association and the American Chronic Pain Association can help put you in touch with others who have had similar experiences and can understand what you're going through.


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