Around 5 million people in the United States suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a cluster of symptoms that includes widespread pain and tender points, fatigue, extreme sensitivity to touch, morning stiffness, and environmental sensitivity. Many people with the condition have irregular sleeping patterns, fibro fog (memory and cognitive problems); tingling and numbness in the hands and feet; headaches; irritable bowel syndrome; painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea); restless leg syndrome and environmental sensitivity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 to 90 percent of individuals who have been diagnosed with FMS are women. Of the total country’s population, about 3.4 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men are afflicted by the condition.
Pain. The defining symptom of FMS is widespread pain in the tissues around the joints and muscles. Broken down into the original Greek, fibromyalgia literally means fibrous tissue (‘fibro’) and muscle (‘myo’) pain (‘algia’). A diagnosis of FMS is often confirmed by the presence of ‘trigger points,’ specific spots around the back and neck that, when pressed, trigger soreness where people without FMS ordinarily feel pressure. While many conditions cause pain, the type of widespread fibromyalgia pain that one experiences with this condition is very distinctive.