Who Gets Fibromyalgia? How Can You Tell if You Have Fibromyalgia?

overview tenderpoint diagram for fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an often-misunderstood form of rheumatoid disease. It’s usually classified alongside other forms of rheumatic disorders, such as arthritis, but the exact cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown.

Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans age 18 or older. For unknown reasons, between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women While anyone can get fibromyalgia, hormones are thought to be a possible explanation for this gender bias; however, men and children also can be affected. Most people are diagnosed during middle age, although the symptoms often become present earlier in life.

How Can You Tell if You Have Fibromyalgia?
Your doctor will ask about your pain symptoms and then press on a series of anatomically-defined soft tissue body sites called “tender points.” There are 18 tender points on the body that will usually be highly sensitive to pressure in people with fibromyalgia as specified by the American College of Rheumatology criteria. People who do not have fibromyalgia are much less tender to pressure applied at these tender points.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimates that about five million adults in the United States have fibromyalgia. It can technically develop in anyone at any age, but fibromyalgia most typically develops in middle-aged adults. The disorder primarily occurs in women, so being female is a risk factor.

Other risk factors also increase the risk of developing fibromyalgia. These risk factors include:

  • a personal or family history of fibromyalgia or other rheumatoid disease
  • recurring injuries in the same part of the body
  • anxiety or long-term stress
  • neurological disorders
  • going through a major physical event, such as a car accident
  • history of serious infections

Having a history of any of the above factors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop fibromyalgia. You should still be aware of these risks and discuss them with your doctor if you’re concerned.


1Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, Arnold LM, Choi H, Deyo RA, Gabriel S, Hirsch R, Hochberg MC, Hunder GG, Jordan JM, Katz JN, Kremers HM, Wolfe F; National Arthritis Data Workgroup. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part II. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Jan;58(1):26-35.

People with certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus), or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) may be more likely to have fibromyalgia, too.

Several studies indicate that women who have a family member with fibromyalgia are more likely to have fibromyalgia themselves, but the exact reason for this—whether it is heredity, shared environmental factors, or both—is unknown. Researchers are trying to determine whether variations in certain genes cause some people to be more sensitive to stimuli, which lead to pain syndromes.


Headache and Treatment

Meds for rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylosis

Celecoxib is one of the medicines used in rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, acute pain, painful menstruation and menstrual symptoms, and to reduce the number of colon and rectal polyps in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. It is in a class of NSAIDs called COX-2 inhibitors. It exhibits anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic action due to inhibition of COX-2 enzyme. It works by stopping the body’s production of a substance that causes pain and inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and deformity of the joints. Other problems throughout the body (systemic problems) may also develop, including inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis), the development of bumps (called rheumatoid nodules) in various parts of the body, lung disease, blood disorders, and weakening of the bones (osteoporosis). RA exists all over the world and affects men and women of all races wherein women being affected 3 times more than men. About 80% of people with RA are diagnosed between the ages of 35 to 50. RA appears to run in families, although certain factors in the environment may also influence the development of the disease. The underlying event that promotes RA in a person is unknown. RA can begin very gradually, or it can strike quickly. The first symptoms are pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. The most commonly involved joints include hands, feet, wrists, elbows, and ankles, although other joints may also be involved. The joints are affected in a symmetrical fashion. This means that if the right wrist is involved, the left wrist is also involved. The joints may be difficult to straighten, and affected fingers and toes may be permanently bent (flexed). The hands and feet may curve outward in an abnormal way. There is no known way to prevent the development of RA, but many different types of treatment can alleviate symptoms and modify the disease process.

Ankylosing spondylitis also called as rheumatoid spondylitis or Marie-Strümpell disease refers to inflammation of the joints in the spine. AS is characterized by chronic inflammation, that causes pain and stiffness of the back, progressing to the chest and neck. Eventually, the whole back may become curved and inflexible if the bones fuse (this is known as “bamboo spine”). AS is a systemic disorder that may involve multiple organs, such as the eye (causing an inflammation of the iris, or iritis), heart (causing aortic valve disease), lungs, skin (causing a scaly skin condition, or psoriasis), and the gastrointestinal tract (causing inflammation within the small intestine, called ileitis, or inflammation of the large intestine, called colitis). The cause of AS is still unknown. Genetics play an important role in this disease. Symptoms of AS include low back and hip pain and stiffness, difficulty expanding the chest, pain in the neck, shoulders, knees, and ankles, low-grade fever, fatigue, and weight loss. There is no cure for AS, and the course of the disease is unpredictable. However , most patients can lead normal lives with treatment to control symptoms.

Celecoxib is licensed for use in these diseases. It was originally intended to relieve pain while minimizing the gastrointestinal adverse effects usually seen with conventional NSAIDs. Its use is primary indicated in patients who need regular and long term pain relief. It is recommended after taking into account all your medical history. Hence, it should be used under the supervision of your health care provider.

Written by: Bhupinder Kaur Khera

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