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WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA SYNDROME?

FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons--the fibrous tissues in the body. FMS used to be called fibrositis, implying that there was inflammation in the muscles, but research later proved that inflammation did not exist. The symptoms of FMS are very similar to those of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
Most patients with fibromyalgia say that they ache all over. Their muscles may feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Sometimes the muscles twitch and at other times they burn. More women than men are afflicted with fibromyalgia, but it shows up in people of all ages.
To help your family and friends relate to your condition, have them think back to the last time they had a bad flu. Every muscle in their body shouted out in pain. In addition, they felt devoid of energy as though someone had unplugged their power supply. While the severity of symptoms fluctuate from person to person, FMS may resemble a post-viral state and this is why several experts in the field of FMS and CFS believe that these two syndromes are one and the same.
FMS is not new. It was first described by William Balfour, a surgeon at the University of Edinburgh, in 1816. The medical profession called it many different names, including chronic rheumatism, myalgia, pressure point syndrome, and fibrositis. The condition was also thought to be psychological by some physicians, but that notion must now be relegated to the Dark Ages of medicine.
In 1987, the American Medical Association (AMA), recognized FMS as a true illness and a major cause of disability. Now, nearly ten years later, it is still ,unfortunately, too often dismissed as the "newest fad disease", and most physicians still lack the knowledge to diagnose and treat it.
FMS is not a catchall, "wastebasket" diagnosis. FMS is a specific, chronic non-degenerative, non-progressive, noninflammatory, truly systemic pain condition.
Diseases have known causes and well-understood mechanisms for producing symptoms. FMS is called a syndrome, which means it is a specific set of signs and symptoms that occur together. Don't let this fool you into thinking that Fibromyalgia is any less serious or potentially disabling than a disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other serious afflictions are also classified as syndromes. Lab tests for Fibromyalgia are valid only to rule out other conditions. There is no blood test that can accurately identify Fibromyalgia.


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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12