What is Fibromyalgia?


Fibromyalgia (FM) - Classified by the World Health Organisation, ICD10-M79.7

Musculoskeletal Clinical Information

  • A chronic disorder of unknown etiology characterized by pain, stiffness, and tenderness in the muscles of neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. Other signs and symptoms include headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and painful menstruation.

  • A common nonarticular rheumatic condition that is characterized by muscle pain, tenderness, and stiffness.

  • A common nonarticular rheumatic syndrome characterized by myalgia and multiple points of focal muscle tenderness to palpation (trigger points). Muscle pain is typically aggravated by inactivity or exposure to cold. This condition is often associated with general symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, stiffness, headaches, and occasionally depression. There is significant overlap between fibromyalgia and the chronic fatigue syndrome (fatigue syndrome, chronic). Fibromyalgia may arise as a primary or secondary disease process. It is most frequent in females aged 20 to 50 years. (from Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p1494-95)

  • An acute, subacute, or chronic painful state of muscles, subcutaneous tissues, ligaments, tendons, or fasciae caused by a number of agents such as trauma, strain, occupation, exposure, posture, infection, or arthritis.

  • Fibromyalgia makes you feel tired and causes muscle pain and "tender points." tender points are places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms or legs that hurt when touched. People with fibromyalgia may have other symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, morning stiffness, headaches, and problems with thinking and memory, sometimes called "fibro fog."no one knows what causes fibromyalgia. Anyone can get it, but it is most common in middle-aged women. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medicines can help you manage your symptoms. Getting enough sleep and exercising may also help. nih: national institute of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases

  • Inflammation and fibrous degeneration of a muscle.


FM affects muscles, tendons, nerves and joints - is it any wonder that every day there is pain somewhere in our bodies?!  Hence the 200+ list of symptoms.  Florence Nightingale is documented as having had FM, although diagnosed with 'women's hysteria' after her return from the crimean war when she became bedbound due to the pain and fatigue.  Many health professionals would still have you believe it is psychosomatic (all in the mind, a psychological illness).  



With an average 4% of the population diagnosed even a glance at that statement would tell an educated person there is something very wrong with that diagnosis!  Perhaps they still believe the world is flat - sailors knew it was round long before Pythagorus proposal.  Time proved them right and it will be the same with FM.  Science is only proven until it is disproven ... meanwhile we wait and suffer.



What is ME/CFS?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) / Chronic Fatigue (CF) - Classified by the World Health Organsiation, ICD10-G93.3

Clinical Information

The term Myalgic Encephalomyelitis has been included by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD), since 1969. The current version ICD-10 lists M.E. under G.93.3 - neurological conditions.  (Please note the Institute of Medicine  (IOM) is currently proposing changing the name to Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID).


ME has been documented in medical literature since 1934.  Currently it is described by the Institute of Medicine in the following way:This disease is characterized by profound fatigue,
cognitive dysfunction, sleep abnormalities, autonomic manifestations, pain, and other symptoms that are made worse by exertion of any sort. ME/CFS can severely impair patients’ ability to conduct their normal lives. Yet many people struggle
with symptoms for years before receiving a diagnosis. Fewer than one-third of medical school curricula and less than half of medical textbooks include information about ME/CFS.

Although many health care providers are aware of ME/CFS, they may misunderstand the disease or lack knowledge about how to diagnose and treat it. Such gaps in understanding lead to delayed diagnoses and inappropriate management of patients’ symptoms. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Social Security Administration asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene an expert committee to examine the evidence base for ME/CFS.


In Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness, the committee proposes new diagnostic criteria that will facilitate timely diagnosis and care and enhance understanding among health care providers and the public. In addition, the committee recommends that the name of the disease be changed from ME/CFS to systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) to more accurately capture the central characteristics of the illness.


ME, CF are all chronic conditions with many patients being diagnosed and dealing with more than one. 
These chronic conditions affect an estimated 3-5% of the population including children as young as 3! Whilst FM has been known to exist for centuries ME/CF are relatively new.  All have been classified by other names in the past so it would be easy to see why some people think they are all very recent conditions.The risk of suicide is increased substantially among FM/ME/CF (SEID) patients.  


It is enough to have to try and live with any one of these conditions and the disbelief and lack of support is too much for many to bear. The stress of 'fighting' the illness plus having to fight for every bit of help needed and many times turned away removes any hope for too many.


All over body pain combined with total exhaustion.  Variable from day to day.200+ symptoms (check out the 'more' tab for the full list).

Some of the other health issues that often appear to go hand in hand with these chronic conditions are:- Hypothyroidism, Hypermobility Joint Dysfunction, Degenerative Disc Disease, Scoliosis, Raynaud's Phenomenon, Anxiety and Depression.