FIBROMYALGIA is a long term condition that causes widespread pain in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is surprisingly quite common, with as many as one person in 25 affected.

It used to be called muscular rheumatism and fibrositis and although the condition is not inflammatory or degenerative, the pain can be severe and have great impact on daily life. The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain, tiredness (fatigue) and sleep disturbance although the severity of the symptoms vary from person to person and day to day.

Fibromyalgia affects women more than men. Unfortunately at present no one knows what causes fibromyalgia but it may be that there is an interaction between physical, mental and psychological factors.

The main concern is the pain level, which is difficult to stop because there is no physical cause that can be healed. Despite long-lasting pain it does not cause any permanent damage to the body`s tissues. Interestingly, a recent experiment involving healthy volunteers being woken during each period of deep sleep revealed a number of them experiencing typical signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia, indicating that sleep disturbance, anxiety and pain can turn into a vicious cycle.

There is no cure as yet for fibromyalgia but there are ways of managing your symptoms.

Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with pain, sleep disturbance or depression associated with the condition.

It is very important to discuss any treatments with your doctor to find a balance between pain relief and possible side effects of the available drugs. Your doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist to improve any posture, stretch and relax your muscles, helping you to gradually become more active.

Self-help is also recommended but help is also available including complementary therapies, massage, acupuncture etc to relieve the pain in the short term. However the most important factor is to get a good nights sleep.