Dr. Tural's health blog

Understanding Fibromyalgia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

What is Fibromyalgia?

Most people are looking for an answer to the question of what is fibromyalgia. Let’s take a closer look at this disease, which has very complex findings. First, it is a chronic, long-term, disease. It causes widespread muscle pain, joint pain, and fatigue. The pain may decrease or increase intermittently. Fibromyalgia has no known cause, but certain factors, such as stress and genetics, can predispose a person to the disease. Although there is no cure, lifestyle changes, some medications, and other therapies provide relief in the patient’s condition.


Anyone can have fibromyalgia, including children. Statistics show that women are twice as likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. Symptoms usually appear in middle age. Up to 20% of patients suffering from other chronic rheumatological conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and sarcoidosis may also have fibromyalgia.

What triggers fibromyalgia?

Certain conditions or events can cause fibromyalgia to manifest as a disease. Here are some of them:

  • Stress factors such as being born prematurely, abuse, traumatic life events such as accidents
  • Medical conditions such as viral infections or other illnesses
  • Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders
  • Bad sleep pattern
  • Not exercising

Some factors, especially situations that increase the stress level, can cause a fibromyalgia attack (exacerbation). Some of these factors include:

  • Changes in daily routines
  • Dietary changes or poor diet
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • lack of sleep
  • such as work-related stress, another illness, emotional stress
  • Changes in treatment
  • Change in sleep patterns (for example, shift work)
  • weather or temperature changes

What findings make us think of fibromyalgia?

Patients often consult the doctor with characteristic symptoms such as generalized muscle pain and joint pain, as well as fatigue and poor quality sleep. The disease affects each patient differently.

The patient may also experience:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Problems with the digestive system, including diarrhea or constipation
  • Facial or jaw pain (jaw joint disorders)
  • Headache
  • Memory problems
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

There is no test that definitively diagnoses fibromyalgia. The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is clinically confirmed based on symptoms and physical examination results. Basic blood tests are recommended to rule out other causes of fatigue, such as anemia or hypothyroid disease. Diagnosis is based on the patient’s family and medical history, along with symptoms. People with fibromyalgia tend to be extremely sensitive to pain that would not normally bother most people.

In the past, doctors used to assess trigger points or areas on the body that were highly sensitive to touch. If he could identify 11 of the 18 evaluated points, he could diagnose fibromyalgia.

In 2010, the American College of Rheumatology developed new criteria and it was stated that tender points do not have value as a diagnostic criterion. For diagnosis, widespread pain must be present for three months along with fatigue and other symptoms such as impaired memory and concentration, poor quality sleep, symptoms of depression, and restlessness.

How is it controlled or treated?

There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Some medications and lifestyle changes can improve symptoms. The following options can be used to treat fibromyalgia:

  • İmproved sleep habits
  • Stress management techniques
  • Exercise therapy
  • Analgesic drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants (drugs used for epilepsy)
  • Trigger point injection, Dry needle therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

What are the complications?

Fibromyalgia is not life threatening. Living with chronic pain and fatigue can of course be difficult for those with this disease. If fibromyalgia is not treated, work life and daily activities become more difficult and quality of life decreases.

How can fibromyalgia be prevented and what is the prognosis for these patients?

Because it is not known what causes fibromyalgia, it is difficult to say what steps should be taken to truly prevent the disease. Still, it’s always a good idea to follow the suggestions below:

  • Minimize the stress in your life
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Keep your weight within healthy limits
  • Take care that arthritis, depression or other conditions are well treated
  • Exercise actively and regularly

Most people with fibromyalgia can relieve symptoms by taking certain medications and making lifestyle changes. Sometimes the symptoms completely go away after taking steps to reduce the stress. A small number of people experience pain or fatigue so severe that they cannot work. In these cases, positive changes in the quality of life can be caused by taking both medical, psychological and social help with a holistic approach.

To get comprehensive information about fibromyalgia and the details of coping with this disease, you can read the book written by Tural Bayramov M.D.: Fibromyalgia : A Patient’s Guide to Understanding, Coping, and Finding Hope