What is Fibromyalgia?
Introduction to Fibromyalgia
“Fibromyalgia” is basically widespread chronic pain without a known cause, the ultimate non-diagnosis. Some people will eventually discover a specific cause — there are many surprising causes of pain that can get overlooked for years at a time — but many never find out what’s going on.
More precisely now: fibromyalgia is a label for a pattern of unexplained stubborn chronic pain, stiffness, fatigue, and mental fog; it is a diagnosis of exclusion, [Wikipedia] used when all other known possibilities have been eliminated. It often goes with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and mood disorders. About 1–2% of the population suffer from this.1 Some people do get better, but most do not.
Controversy, stigma, and quackery swirl around fibromyalgia like a bad smell. It is often not diagnosed when it should be, and even more often these days it is diagnosed when it shouldn’t be.2 No medical speciality specializes in it. Rheumatologists and neurologists often get “stuck” with fibromyalgia patients, but have no idea what to do with them unless they’ve taken a special interest in the topic, and few do. There is no medical consensus on how fibromyalgia should be treated.3 Alternative medicine has rushed into the medical gap with a dizzying array of crackpot cures.
The biology of fibromyalgia remains a mystery. There are intriguing theories only. Many professionals still assume it’s a psychogenic problem (much like migraines were until surprisingly recently). Many others now believe that fibromyalgia is a disease of neurological sensitization — an overactive alarm system — but this is unproven and awkwardly at odds with some of what we do know about the condition. It’s likely that there are multiple causes. We just don’t know what’s going on with these patients, even though fibromyalgia research is booming — because a large percentage of it is worthless.
Below is a one minute medical school explanation of the various components of Fibromyalgia.