7 things you need to know about fibromyalgia

The relatively unknown condition is actually quite common

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7 things you need to know about Fibromyalgia


Chances are, you may never have even heard the term fibromyalgia.

But around one in 20 people are thought to have the condition to some degree.

See also: A guide to fibromyalgia: symptoms and treatments

See also: Seven ways diabetes affects your body


Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes widespread tenderness and musculoskeletal pain, along with fatigue, and memory problems.

Fibro, as it's sometimes shortened to, is more common in women than men.

Symptoms can include: widespread body pain and tenderness for at least three months; fatigue; memory or thinking problems (known as 'fibro-fog); difficulty sleeping; headaches; and irritable bowel syndrome.

There is no test for fibromyalgia and doctors diagnose it by ruling out other causes of the symptoms.

The exact causes of fibromyalgia are unknown but, according to the NHS, it's thought to be "related to abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain and changes in the way the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) processes pain messages carried around the body."

In a lot of cases the condition may be triggered by a physically or emotionally stressful event, like an injury or infection, an operation, giving birth, death of a loved one, or a relationship breakdown.

So what can help manage it? Stress reduction, exercise and sleep are all good protection. Counselling and talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help.

Medication like painkillers can also treat symptoms, but there is no cure for the condition.

Visit your GP if you think you may be suffering with fibromyalgia.

Charities like Fibromyalgia Action UK can offer support and information to people with the condition.