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What is fibromyalgia?

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Quick Answer

Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal disease that affects women more than men, according to WebMD. Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia may experience fatigue, muscle tenderness, cognitive issues and depression, although not every patient has the same symptoms. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose due to its wide-ranging symptoms.

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What is fibromyalgia?
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Full Answer

Symptoms of fibromyalgia can be similar to other musculoskeletal disorders such as tendinitis and arthritis, which often include sore or inflamed muscles and joints, states WebMD. Physical exams and a blood test called FM/a are used to help diagnose the disorder. The FM/a blood test checks for immune antibodies that are sometimes produced in patients with fibromyalgia.

During a physical exam, a physician looks for tender points on the patient's body, also known as trigger points, explains Healthline. These trigger points are commonly located in the shoulders, the hips, the back of the head and the elbows. If a patient responds positively to 11 of the 18 trigger points set forth by the American College of Rheumatology, the patient is diagnosed with fibromyalgia by her physical exam.

Because each patient diagnosed with fibromyalgia may present with different symptoms, the treatment for fibromyalgia is not a one-fits-all plan. Some patients find benefit from anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen, reports the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Other patients find relief through exercise, massage, acupuncture and herbal supplements.

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