Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body. As well as widespread pain, people with fibromyalgia may also have:
increased sensitivity to pain
fatigue (extreme tiredness)
problems with mental processes (known as "fibro-fog") – such as problems with memory and concentration
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
What causes fibromyalgia?
The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it's thought to be related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages carried around the body. It may also be hereditary.
In many cases the condition appears to be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, such as:
Who is affected?
Anyone can develop fibromyalgia, although it affects around seven times as many women as men. The condition typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, but can occur in people of any age, including children and the elderly.
It's not clear exactly how many people are affected by fibromyalgia, although research has suggested that it could be a relatively common condition. Some estimates suggest nearly 1 in 20 people may be affected by fibromyalgia to some degree. It is a difficult condition to diagnose and there is no specific test for the condition and the symptoms can be similar to a number of other conditions.
How fibromyalgia is treated
There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, but there are treatments to help relieve some of the symptoms and make the condition easier to live with.
Treatment tends to be a combination of:
medication – such as antidepressants and painkillers
talking therapies – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling
lifestyle changes – such as exercise programmes and relaxation techniques
Exercise in particular has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including helping to reduce pain.
Massage is beneficial but must be adapted for this condition and this would be discussed in depth during the consultation. Massage can help reduce pain, improve sleep and add to quality of life.
(Reference: NHS UK )
Help & Support
For more support contact Fibromyalgia Action UK
Local Support Groups:
Bath Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Group
Bath & Trowbridge Fibro Coffee & Chat Group
Bridgwater and District Fibromyalgia Support Group
Bristol F.M.E. United Support Group
FMA UK National Helpline
Telephone 0844 887 2444
Monday to Friday - 10.00 am. to 4.00 pm.
This helpline is staffed by volunteers who tend to have fibromyalgia themselves.