Fibromyalgia (FM) is a long-term (chronic) pain syndrome characterized by symptoms of widespread body pain, stiffness, and fatigue. It is a disorder of pain regulation where pain sensations are amplified and where sensations that are not normally painful can hurt.
The pain and stiffness of FM are usually worse in the morning and it can take hours before the body loosens up. Fibromyalgia pain can be quite variable and can be aggravated by stress, lack of sleep, physical activity, and even the weather.
The exact causes of FM are not fully understood and there may be multiple triggers involved. Researchers believe that it is a neurologic (brain) problem related to how the body transmits and interprets pain signals.
Fibromyalgia predominantly affects women. Men can also be affected but cases are much less common. The disease affects mostly young to middle-aged people. The majority of cases occur after a stressful incident, such as an emotional or physical injury. For example, a car accident or another medical illness could trigger FM. The disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people.