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It is possible that the main title of the report Fibromyalgia is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Fibromyositis
  • Fibrositis
  • Muscular Rheumatism
  • Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome
  • Nonarticular Rheumatism
  • Periarticular Fibrositis
  • Rheumatoid Myositis
  • Tension Myalgia

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by pain throughout much of the body. The pain may begin gradually or have a sudden onset. Other symptoms are muscle spasms, fatigue, muscle tissue stiffness and non- restorative (unrefreshing) sleep. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown.

The terms Fibrositis, Fibromyositis, Periarticular Fibrositis and Rheumatoid Myositis are still being used by many to describe this condition. The ending of "itis" on each of these terms is actually incorrect. "Itis" means inflammation, and there is no inflammation in Fibromyalgia. The term Fibromyalgia has now become the accepted term, but many people continue to be diagnosed with the other synonyms. Tension Myalgia is another synonym that is currently being used.


Patients with Fibromyalgia may have a gradual or sudden onset of symptoms. The major symptom of this disorder is muscular pain. Areas which are frequently affected may include muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders, in the low back, the sides of the breast bone, and the bony points of the elbows, hips and knees. In addition, small specific areas called tender points, which are painful when pressure is applied, will be found by an examining physician.

Other symptoms found in most patients with Fibromyalgia are: muscle spasms, fatigue, muscle stiffness and non-restorative (unrefreshing) sleep.

Some patients with fibromyalgia may have chest pain, painful menstrual periods, difficulty concentrating, headaches, painful and/or frequent urination, diarrhea, constipation, numbness, dryness in the eyes and mouth, dizziness, swelling of a tendon (tendinitis), swelling of the connective tissue structure surrounding a joint (bursitis), depression and/or anxiety.


The exact cause of Fibromyalgia is not known. Researchers are studying serotonin, a chemical in the brain (neurotransmitter), to see if there is a disturbance in the messages sent between various parts of the central nervous system in people with Fibromyalgia. An imbalance of serotonin could have a hand in the increase of pain, depression and unrefreshing sleep associated with Fibromyalgia.

Muscle tissue, hormonal and immunological influences, as well as the possibility of a virus triggering the disorder are all being investigated by researchers.

Affected Populations

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed more frequently in females than in males. The majority of patients with this disorder will develop symptoms between the ages of 20 and 50 years. It is estimated that 3.7 million Americans are affected by Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia may also develop in children and teenagers, often being misdiagnosed as "growing pains."

Standard Therapies

Fibromyalgia may be treated with low doses of tricyclic antidepressant medications. Amitriptyline (Elavil) and Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), which are prescribed as muscle relaxants, may be helpful. They may also help patients who suffer from unrefreshing (non-restorative) sleep. The tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline (Elavil) can also be used to help patients with this disorder who have depression. When Elavil is used for this reason, it is given at higher doses.

Some patients receive temporary relief with stretching exercises, deep heat treatments, warm showers and baths, whirlpool baths and hot tubs, heating pads, massages, ice packs, acupuncture, biofeedback and/or aerobic exercise.

Investigational Therapies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.

For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:

Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010


For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:



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Arnold LM, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, flexible-dose study of fluoxetine in the treatment of women with fibromyalgia. Am J Med. 2002;15:191-97.

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National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Association

P.O. Box 18426

Kansas City, MO 64133


Tel: (816)737-1343

Fax: (816)524-6782



American Chronic Pain Association

P.O. Box 850

Rocklin, CA 95677


Tel: (916)632-0922

Fax: (916)652-8190

Tel: (800)533-3231



American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.

22100 Gratiot Ave.

Eastpointe, MI 48021

Tel: (586)776-3900

Fax: (586)776-3903

Tel: (800)598-4668



Arthritis Foundation

1330 West Peachtree Street, Suite 100

Atlanta, GA 30309


Tel: (404)872-7100

Tel: (800)283-7800



NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Information Clearinghouse

One AMS Circle

Bethesda, MD 20892-3675


Tel: (301)495-4484

Fax: (301)718-6366

Tel: (877)226-4267

TDD: (301)565-2966



National CFIDS Foundation, Inc.

103 Aletha Road

Needham, MA 02492-3931

Tel: (781)449-3535

Fax: (781)449-8606




P.O. Box 9204

Bardonia, NY 10954

Tel: (914)648-9197

Fax: (845)215-0041



Erythema Nodosum Yahoo Support Group


Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126

Tel: (301)251-4925

Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223


Madisons Foundation

PO Box 241956

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tel: (310)264-0826

Fax: (310)264-4766



Autoimmune Information Network, Inc.

PO Box 4121

Brick, NJ 08723

Fax: (732)543-7285


Irish Chronic Pain Association

Coleraine House, Coleraine St.

Dublin, 7


Tel: 35318047567

Fax: 35318047567



11688 North Sage Brook Road

Oro Valley, AZ 85737-7342

Tel: (520)544-3023

Fax: (520)544-3023



European Society for Immunodeficiencies

1-3 rue de Chantepoulet

Geneva, CH 1211


Tel: 410229080484

Fax: 41229069140



AutoImmunity Community



Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF)

515 N. Midland Ave.

Upper Nyack, NY 10960

Tel: (845)348-0400

Fax: (845)348-0210

Tel: (800)701-8275



For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.® (NORD). Cigna members can access the complete report by logging into For non-Cigna members, a copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see