A Journey from Frustration to Self Management

Fybromyalgia Syndrome

The first thing I want you to notice is the spelling of Fibro above. Over the years Fibro has been called various terms and different spellings. This spelling originated in Britian and is still used in search terms. However, let’s look at the evolution of HOW the medical community has defined fibromyalgia over the recent years.

Fybromyalgia syndrome has been defined by the medical community in different terms as more research has been completed.  I researched multiple dictionaries for medical definitions and will include them in the following paragraphs.  

Please note 2003 definition compared to 2012!

fibromyalgia [fi″bro-mi-al´jah]

diffuse aching pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints.

Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

fibromyalgia (fī·brō·mī·al·jē·)

noun- a disease primarily indicated by noticeable, extensive pain in muscles, tendons, joints, and soft tissues.  The condition can develop as a singular condition or accompanying other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.  A successful diagnosis of this condition includes the presence of tenderness and pain in a minimum of 11 tender points on the body. Also called fibromyositi.

Jonas: Mosby’s Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (c) 2005, Elsevier.


a form of nonarticular rheumatism characterized by musculoskeletal pain, spasms, stiffness, fatigue, and severe sleep disturbance.  Common sites of pain or stiffness include the lower back, neck, shoulder region, arms, hands, knees, hips, thighs, legs, and feet.  These sites are known as trigger points.

Physical therapy, non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants provide temporary relief.

 Also called fibrositis, soft tissue rheumatism.

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

fi·bro·my·al·gi·a (fī’brō-mī-al’jē-ă)

A common syndrome of chronic widespread soft-tissue pain accompanied by weakness, fatigue, and sleep disturbances; the cause is unknown. 

Synonym(s): fibromyalgia syndrome

Fibromyalgia is a disorder of unknown cause characterized by chronic widespread aching and stiffness, involving particularly the neck, shoulders, back, and hips, which is aggravated by use of the affected muscles.

 The American College of Rheumatology has established diagnostic criteria that include pain on both sides of the body, both above and below the waist, as well as in an axial distribution (cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine, or anterior chest).  Additionally, point tenderness must be found in at least 11 of 18 specified sites.  Tender points are sharply localized and often bilaterally symmetric.  Some points may correspond to sites of pain and others may be painless until palpated.

Usually associated fatigue, a sense of weakness or inability to perform certain movements, paresthesia, difficulty sleeping, and headaches are found.  About one fourth of patients with fibromyalgia receive partial or total disability compensation.

Fibromyalgia frequently occurs in conjunction with migraine headaches, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, restless legs syndrome, chronic fatigue, and depression; symptoms are typically exacerbated by emotional stress.  

The prevalence in the U.S. is estimated at 1-3% of the population, with all races and socioeconomic strata affected about equally.  Most patients (90%) are adult women.  The onset of symptoms usually occurs before age 50.

The disorder is chronic but not progressive.  Routine hematologic, serologic, and imaging studies yield uniformly normal results.  However, the sleep EEG typically shows intrusions of alpha waves into non-REM sleep and infrequent progression to stage 3 and stage 4 sleep.  One third of patients with fibromyalgia have low insulin-like growth factor (IGF) levels.  Elevation of cerebrospinal fluid substance P, depression of cortisol production, and orthostatic hypotension have also been reported.

Most patients experience moderate to severe disability, but symptoms can usually be mitigated by treatment.  Effective treatment programs include education, a regular program of low-impact aerobic exercise, and physical therapy as needed.  Cognitive therapy and group therapy are often helpful.  About one third of patients respond to pharmacologic agents such as antidepressants (amitriptyline, fluoxetine) and muscle relaxants (cyclobenzaprine).

Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012