Fibromyalgia is a common chronic pain syndrome, affecting an estimated 3 to 9 million adults in the United States. Fibromyalgia is not a specific disease. The term fibromyalgia describes a pattern of symptoms that cluster together, including widespread body pain and sensitivity to pressure on specific spots on the body, called tender points. Curiously, these particular tender points are uniquely sensitive to pressure in people with fibromyalgia, while similar spots in other parts of their bodies are not. In addition, people with other types of chronic pain, such as low back pain or arthritis, do not find that pressing these spots is painful for them.
The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are still unknown. Some patients develop fibromyalgia symptoms after trauma or illness, while others develop the condition without any identified triggering event. Fortunately, fibromyalgia is not a degenerative or progressive disorder that would develop into paralysis, memory loss, or other losses of functioning.
Interestingly, a number of headache therapies are also effective in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia:
- Antidepressants (which have pain-relieving effects)
- Tizanidine (a muscle relaxant with pain-relieving effects)
- Psyschological pain management skills (for example, stress management, coping skills, relaxation training)
- Aerobic exercise
Common symptoms of FMS-may include:
- Concentration and memory problems — known as “fibro fog”
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Morning stiffness
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Sleep problems
- Numbness, and tingling in hands, arms, feet, and legs
- Tender points
- Urinary symptoms, such as pain or frequency
Are Chronic Headaches a Symptom of Fibromyalgia?
Chronic headaches, such as recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches, are common in up to 40% of people with fibromyalgia. They can pose a major problem in a person’s ability to cope with and self-manage FMS.