Fibromyalgia is diagnosed when a person has long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues.
It has been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety.
Painful areas are called tender points. Tender points are found in the soft tissue on the back of the neck, shoulders, chest, lower back, hips, shins, elbows, and knees. The pain then spreads out from these areas.
The pain may feel like a deep ache, or a shooting, burning pain.
The joints are not affected, although the pain may feel like it is coming from the joints.
To be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, you must have had at least 3 months of widespread pain, and pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 areas, including
- Arms (elbows)
- Lower back
- Rib cage
Fibromyalgia is from the Latin fibra (fiber) and the Greek words myo (muscle) and algos (pain).
Fibromyalgia continues to be a disputed diagnosis. Many members of the medical community do not consider Fibromyalgia a disease because of a lack of abnormalities on physical examination, and the absence of objective diagnostic tests.
Several theories propose that Fibromyalgia is a Somatoform disorder – a mental disorder characterized by physical symptoms that suggest physical illness or injury. Symptoms that cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition, direct effect of a substance, or attributable to another mental disorder.
The symptoms that result from a Somatoform disorder are due to mental factors. In people who have a Somatoform disorder, medical test results are either normal or do not explain the person’s symptoms.
Patients with a Somatoform disorder often become worried about their health because the doctors are unable to find a cause for their health problems. This causes severe stress, due to preoccupations with the disorder that portrays an exaggerated belief about the severity of the disorder.
*It’s up to patients to advocate for themselves. Find a doctor that will take your case seriously and dig deeper into understanding what is happening in the body and brain.*
The “Dopamine hypothesis of Fibromyalgia” proposes that the central abnormality responsible for symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia is a disruption of normal dopamine-related neurotransmission.
Insufficient dopamine in a part of the body is termed Hypodopaminergia.
Dopamine plays a role in pain perception and natural analgesia.
There is also strong evidence for a role of Dopamine in Restless Leg Syndrome, which is a condition found frequently in patients with Fibromyalgia.
Some Fibromyalgia patients responded in controlled trials to Pramipexole, a dopamine agonist that selectively stimulates dopamine D2/D3 receptors and is used to treat both Parkinson’s disease and Restless Leg Syndrome.