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Fibromyalgia: Overview and Risk Factors  

Fibromyalgia is a common but poorly understood and somewhat controversial pain syndrome that affects muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some reports suggest that in 50% of cases, generalized pain begins after trauma or illness. However, the patient’s history and examination present no explanation for the persistent pain. The condition may be related to an abnormality in pain perception.

Nearly every fibromyalgia patient has fatigue, along with poor sleep quality that may include sleep apnea or other sleep abnormalities. Other common concurrent illnesses include irritable bowel syndrome, depression or anxiety, and headache. Many other nonspecific symptoms may occur, including glosodynia, paresthesias without dermatomal distribution, environmental sensitivity (chemical and allergic), and difficulties in concentrating.

Risk Factors

Gender. The condition is 10 times more common in women than in men.

Age. Prevalence in a Kansas population increased from 2% at age 20 to 8% at age 70.1

Genetic factors. Specific genes relating to abnormal serotonin metabolism and transmission have been identified in fibromyalgia patients. 


Fibromyalgia: Diagnosis >>