Fibromyalgia (actually: fibromyalgia syndrome) is a chronic, usually incurable fibre-muscle pain with symptoms that cannot be explained mechanically.
The disease is characterized by widespread pain with varying localization in the muscles and around the joints, back pain and tenderness. Fibromyalgia syndrome mainly affects women. It usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60. The cause is unclear; a disturbance of pain-processing systems in the central nervous system with the consequence of a lowered pain threshold is currently being discussed.
Typical for fibromyalgia are painful tendon attachments and muscles (so-called "tenderpoints") and autonomic disorders such as morning stiffness, general fatigue, exhaustion and sleep disorders. The most common accompanying symptoms include swelling in the hands, feet or face, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable stomach, headache, dryness or hypersensitivity of the mucous membranes. The complaints are aggravated by physical strain, but also by complete rest, stress and cold. A tendency to depression, anxiety and social disorders can be observed in some cases.
The diagnosis is based on the clinical findings of the pressure pain points: 11 out of 28 must be positive. Organ and tissue damage is not yet detectable. Laboratory values such as the ESR, rheumatoid factor and antinuclear antibodies are normal. An improvement of the symptoms can occasionally be observed in older patients. However, chronic disease progressions up to the point of disability are also common.