Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain that is felt in the muscles and tissues, such as tendons and ligaments.
Patients will also experience tenderness in well-recognised tender point sites, which are found mainly in the upper chest and back, as well as neck, arms and legs.
In addition to pain and tenderness, fibromyalgia typically causes considerable distress and disability, impacting daily activities.
About 1 in 25 people will develop fibromyalgia during their life.
Chronic, widespread pain is the most common symptom experienced by patients. The pain often has certain qualities:
Most patients report fatigue and tiredness, which is unrelieved by rest. This is commonly exacerbated by poor sleep (insomnia).
In addition, patients are often affected by other symptoms/conditions including:
There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia and treatment focuses on improving symptoms and quality of life. As fibromyalgia affects individuals differently, patients often require tailored treatment plans.
Several patients report benefits in their symptoms with simple remedies such as exercise, physiotherapy, relaxation and self-help.
Psychological support is an important component of care. Cognitive behavioural therapy may improve symptoms in select patients.
Regular painkillers may provide some benefit in fibromyalgia. Recommended first line treatment however is with antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline, cyclobenzaprine, duloxetine). Antiepileptic medications (e.g. pregabalin, gabapentin) also have proven benefit in fibromyalgia. Many patients will require a combination of 2 or 3 medications to achieve optimum symptom management.
Medical Cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate symptom control.