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Pain in the muscles, tendons, and joints can have various causes, so you should contact your doctor for a full examination. In some cases, the cause of chronic muscle pain and stiffness cannot be found. Those persons are most likely to have a condition called fibromyalgia or fibrositis. The disease is more common in women than in men, while the general prevalence in the US is 2%. The usual onset is during the third, fourth and fifth decade of life.

Pathophysiology

The pathophysiology of fibromyalgia is unknown, but there is a theory that the disease stems from hypersensitivity to different stimuli. This means that these patients have an over-pronounced feeling of pain due to some sort of sensory disorder. Studies have found disturbed levels of different neurotransmitters in the brain tissue of patients with fibromyalgia, so hormone imbalance may also be the leading cause of this disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

Fibromyalgia symptoms include chronic pain (more than 3 months) in multiple muscles including the spine, muscle stiffness, chronic fatigue and exhaustion. These patients may also experience depressive episodes and anxiety, as well as cognitive and concentration problems. Although the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, it often occurs alongside other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, systemic lupus erythematosus, and cardiovascular diseases. In order to exclude the possibility of associated disorders and to confirm the diagnosis, a series of laboratory and psychometric tests is necessary.

Treatment

There is no efficient cure for fibromyalgia. However, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms and remove triggers. One of the most important factors is proper nutrition and maintaining an optimal weight. Avoid stressful events as much as possible as they worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Enough sleep is also crucial in order to keep the disease under control. During episodes of depression and anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. Among medications that can be used are analgesics (pain relievers), anxiolytics, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants. In addition to a diet plan, some supplements are also recommended, such as vitamins, magnesium, amino-acids, and antioxidants.

Being a non-progressive and non-life threatening disease, fibromyalgia can be kept under control with appropriate measures, so there is no reason for persons with this disorder not to live a perfectly normal life.

It has been found that, although fibromyalgia is not progressive, some patients without adequate treatment had a subjective feeling of worsening symptoms. This phenomenon is caused by exhaustion of the body and poor general health status and not by disease progression. In some persons, fibromyalgia can lead to physical and mental disability by exhausting the patient's mechanisms to cope with the persistent disease.

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