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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes the following symptoms:

  • Long-lasting, widespread muscle pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • Fatigue
  • “Tender points” on the body — small areas on the neck, back, chest, elbows, hips, buttocks and knees — that hurt when even a little pressure is applied.

Although fibromyalgia cannot be cured, it is never fatal and doesn’t cause permanent damage to the joints, muscles or internal organs.

Fibromyalgia: what you should know

  • The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. People with some rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) and lupus, seem to be more likely to develop fibromyalgia. Having a parent with fibromyalgia may also raise your risk.
  • According to a 2014 study, four out of five teenagers with juvenile fibromyalgia continue to have symptoms as adults. But roughly half of these teens are able to get enough relief from their symptoms to lead normal, productive lives.
  • Studies have shown that engaging in regular physical and mental activities is one of the most effective ways to ease fibromyalgia symptoms. Getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep every night can also help relieve symptoms.

How can I find out if I have fibromyalgia?

Talk to your doctor if you experience the following:

  • Widespread pain (pain that affects the left and right sides of your body, both above and below your waist) for more than three months
  • Tenderness in multiple sites, or tender points
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with thinking or memory (in some cases)
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (in some cases)
  • Headaches or migraines
  • An impaired ability to do normal activities
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet (in some cases)
  • Morning stiffness

Care for fibromyalgia at Rush

If you think you may have fibromyalgia, see a rheumatologist or physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist (physiatrist) for a definite diagnosis.

Fibromyalgia cannot be cured, so treatment is aimed at relieving the chronic pain and other symptoms. Your doctor will put together a team of multidisciplinary health care providers and a plan to address your specific symptoms and needs.

As part of your treatment, you may also see one or more of these specialists:

  • Physical therapists, who use exercise and other therapies to help ease fibromyalgia symptoms and keep muscles and joints flexible and strong
  • Pain Medicine specialists to help manage your chronic pain with injections or medications
  • Psychotherapists for cognitive-behavioral therapy, which has been shown to help people cope with the physical and emotional challenges of living with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia

Why choose Rush for fibromyalgia care

  • Rheumatologists at Rush were among the group of specialists who created a new set of criteria to diagnose fibromyalgia. These criteria can help doctors make a more definite diagnosis, which can lead to more focused and successful treatment.

Departments and programs that treat this condition