DEFINITION--Inflammation of muscles, muscle sheaths and connective-tissue layers
of tendons, muscles, bones and joints.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Muscular areas of the low back, neck, shoulder, chest,
arms, hips and thighs.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Adults (usually begins between ages 30 and 60) and in
women more often than men (ratio of 5 to 1).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Stiffness and weakness.
- Sudden, painful muscle spasms ("charley horse") that worsen with activity.
- Nodules or localized areas that are tender to the touch (trigger points).
- Painful muscle areas.
- Difficulty remaining asleep.
CAUSES--Unknown. Possibly an imbalance in brain chemicals or an autoimmune
disorder. Until recently, this was thought to be a psychological disorder, but this is no
longer the wide-spread belief. Research continues into the cause.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Sleep disturbances.
- Muscle injury.
- Exposure to dampness or cold.
- Medical history of disorders that produce joint inflammation, such as rheumatoid
arthritis or polyarteritis.
- Viral infections.
- Poor nutrition.
- Fatigue or overwork.
HOW TO PREVENT
- Avoid risk factors when possible.
- Get adequate sleep.
- General conditioning exercises.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Laboratory blood studies to measure inflammation and tests to rule out rheumatoid
arthritis or polymyalgia. There is no specific test for fibromyositis.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Self-care after diagnosis.
- Doctor's treatment.
- Muscle atrophy, disability.
- Abuse of pain-killing medications.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Spontaneous recovery in some persons. Other persons may have
flare-ups and remissions indefinitely. The disease is uncomfortable, but not
life-threatening. Symptoms can be controlled with treatment.
How To Treat
- Heat relieves pain. Take hot showers, and let the water beat on painful areas. Use heat
lamps, electric heating pads, whirlpool or plain tub baths and hot compresses.
- Have someone gently massage painful areas.
- Regular rest patterns may be helpful.
- Eliminate unnecessary stress in your life (see How to Cope with Stress in Appendix).
- Learn relaxation techniques.
- Biofeedback is helpful for some patients who use it to relax contracted muscles.
- Maintain your social life and contact with friends, even though the pain may be
distracting at times.
- For minor discomfort, you may use non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, acetaminophen
- Your doctor may prescribe: Cortisone injections into "trigger points."
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Antidepressants in low dosages and for short
- Stay as active as possible, even when you are in pain. Stretching exercises may be
- General conditioning exercises are helpful.
DIET--No special diet, but avoid substances that interfere with sleep, such as
caffeine and alcohol.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have symptoms of fibrositis that last more than 2 or 3 days.
- New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.