It affects two to five per cent of the population, mainly women, although men and adolescents can also develop the condition and it tends to develop during middle adulthood.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary with each individual both with intensity and frequency.
The most common symptoms are:
- Increased sensitivity to pain due to decreased pain threshold
- Increased responsiveness to sensory stimuli such as heat, cold, light and numbness or tingling
- Problems with cognition (impacting on memory and concentration)
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- Problems with sleep
Signs that suggest a diagnosis of fibromyalgia are:
- Widespread pain for three months or longer
- Abnormal tenderness at particular points around the neck, shoulder, chest, hip, knee and elbow.
- Disturbed sleep patterns
Some people with fibromyalgia have other symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable or overactive bladder, headaches, and swelling and numbness or tingling in the arms and legs. Living with ongoing pain and fatigue often leads to secondary problems such as anxiety and depression.
The causes of fibromyalgia are not known. It is common in people with:
- Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- An illness such as a virus (or recent illness or infection)
- Pain from an injury or trauma
- Emotional stress and depression
- Family history
- Previous pain syndromes
- Mood disorders
- Substance abuse
Fibromyalgia symptoms can be triggered or be exacerbated by various factors, including:
- Weather changes
- Hard physical labour
- Mental stress
- Other musculoskeletal disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Myotherapy can assist in alleviating symptoms of Fibromyalgia by decreasing painful symptoms and encouraging relaxation and elevating mood. Numerous techniques such as trigger point therapy, myofascial release, and relaxation techniques help to elicit a relaxation response within the central nervous system. Studies have shown that massage techniques as performed by Myotherapists increase serotonin levels, decrease circulating stress hormone, decrease tender point pain, improve sleep patterns, and improve overall sense of well-being.