Video Q & A:

Fibromyalgia 101


What is fibromyalgia?

Expert:   Harry D. Fischer, MD, Chief of Rheumatology, Beth Israel Medical Center New York »

Fibromyalgia is one of the most misunderstood conditions out there. It's important to know what it actually is-- check out this video to get educated.

Transcript: Fibromyalgia SYNDROME is a pain condition rather than a disease. That means it is characterized by a collection of symptoms and medical problems—in this case pain, fatigue, memory loss and mood swings--that tend to occur together, but are not necessarily related to a specific, identifiable cause. In fact, no one knows what causes fibromyalgia. What IS known is that fibromyalgia affects about three percent of the world’s population. And, although men and children CAN be affected, out of the 5 million Americans with fibromyalgia, 80 to 90 percent are women. We also know that people with fibromyalgia are more likely to experience headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, jaw disorders, anxiety and depression. And many people with fibromyalgia develop also have other chronic pain conditions. These may include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause. In general, it’s thought that people with fibromyalgia have a heightened sensitivity to pain. Their brain and spinal cord pain receptors react differently. Even bumping an elbow on a doorjamb may be inordinately painful for a person with fibromyalgia. Some people can trace their fibromyalgia to a PHYSICAL trauma such as repetitive use injury, or to an EMOTIONAL trauma. But, often the source of the illness cannot be linked to a single incident. Fibromyalgia may also have a genetic component and can run in families. It also seems that people with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus are more susceptible to it, too. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose. The criteria issued by the American College of Rheumatology CAN HELP: the pain must last for 3 months, there must be all-over body tenderness, there must be pain in all 4 sections of the body, and the pain must register in at least 11 of the 18 tender points, which are located all over the body. Treatment for fibromyalgia includes a wide variety of medications, lifestyle changes, exercises and therapies. To learn more about fibromyalgia, watch other videos in this series. More »

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