A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia

A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia

A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia

A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia


Fibromyalgia is a form of chronic neuromuscular pain, a pain-amplification syndrome brought on by abnormal interactions between hormones, the immune system, neurotransmitters, and the autonomic nervous system, that afflicts six million Americans every year. Often misdiagnosed, and widely misunderstood, the majority of patients are turned away from doctors or treated for depression. This guide offers expert advice to sufferers of this painful syndrome and gives them the education they need to get the help they require but rarely get.

In their earlier books,Making Sense of FibromyalgiaandAll About Fibromyalgia, noted medical writer Janice Wallace and Dr. Daniel Wallace, a leading expert on this disorder, provided comprehensive guides--for both patients and professionals--to this little known and poorly understood syndrome. Now, inFibromyalgia, the Wallaces provide an inviting and succinct version of the syndrome they have studied, laid out in clear and accessible language. The authors provide a clear, concise explanation of the syndrome and its symptoms, and also outline the recent advances in treatments.

Fibromyalgiaaddresses a desperate need for concise, accessible information on this syndrome and offers reassurance to patients and their families.


If you have the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, you may be frustrated by the lack of understanding shown by people around you. This is par⁃ ticularly true of the people you live and work with. If only they could feel for one day how you feel all year! Pain has no memory and no mercy. Is it like a bad flu or a severe headache? How can you find the words to describe it?

When the Arthritis Foundation tried to categorize the 150 different forms of musculoskeletal conditions in 1963, it created a classification known as soft tissue rheumatism. Included in this listing are condi⁃ tions in which joints are not involved. Soft tissue rheumatism encom⁃ passes the supporting structures of joints (e.g., ligaments, bursae, and tendons), muscles, and other soft tissues. Fibromyalgia is a form of soft tissue rheumatism. A combination of three terms—fibro- (from the Latin fibra, or fibrous tissue), myo⁃ (the Greek prefix myos, for muscles), and algia (from the Greek algos, which denotes pain)— fibromyalgia replaces earlier names for the syndrome that are still used by doctors and other health professionals such as myofibrositis, myo⁃ fascitis, muscular rheumatism, fibrositis, and generalized musculo⁃ ligamenous strain. Fibromyalgia is not a form of arthritis, since it is not associated with joint inflammation.


Evidence for the syndrome can be found as far back in history as the book of Job, where he complained of [sinews [that] take no rest.] Seem⁃ ingly exaggerated tenderness of the muscles and soft tissues to touch was documented in the nineteenth-century medical literature by French, German, and British scientists, who called it spinal irritation, Charcot's hysteria, or a morbid affection. The English physician Sir William Gowers (1845–1915) coined the term fibrositis in 1904 in a paper on . . .

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