Fibromyalgia: Fast Facts

Bacteria, viruses, and other germs can easily invade the body and make people sick. Fortunately, thanks to the immune system, the body is able to keep itself safe from these microscopic invaders. There are times, though, when the immune system’s attacks are misplaced, and the target ends up being the muscles, joints, bones, or organs of the body. When this happens to an individual, it means that he or she is experiencing the effects of a rheumatic disease. In the United States, approximately 46 million adults are affected by one of these complex inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and experts have identified over 100 types of rheumatic diseases.    

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, which causes widespread musculoskeletal pain in addition to cognitive issues and fatigue, represents just one of the multiple types of rheumatic diseases. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) has reported that, in the United States, there are about 5 million adults who are experiencing fibromyalgia. According to researchers, fibromyalgia affects how the brain and the spinal cord process signals, both painful and nonpainful, and thereby amplifies sensations that are painful.

What Symptoms Are Experienced?

Widespread pain, which persists for a minimum of three months, and is felt throughout the person’s body, is the primary factor that is necessary for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. In addition to the symptom of pain, which many people describe as being a constant dull ache, another common symptom is the inability to concentrate, focus, or pay attention. As well, disrupted sleep is also reported; conditions such as restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, or pain can contribute to the resulting fatigue caused by rheumatic diseases Catonsville such as fibromyalgia.   

What Is Known About the Cause?

It is suspected that in the brains of fibromyalgia patients, certain chemicals that signal pain have abnormally increased; it is also thought that their pain receptors have become sensitized and overreactive. Some of the factors that have been implicated in these changes include physical or emotional events, infections, and genetics.