Fibromyalgia. What is it and how do we treat it?

G Littlejohn
Australian Family Physician 2001, 30 (4): 327-33

BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal disorder that is characterised by widespread pain, tenderness at multiple anatomical sites and other clinical manifestations such as fatigue and sleep disturbance. It occurs predominantly in women and affects approximately 2-4% of people in industrialised societies.

OBJECTIVE: To discuss the syndrome of fibromyalgia and effective management strategies.

DISCUSSION: Fibromyalgia is a disorder of pain amplification due to increased sensitivity of the pain system. Management of simple fibromyalgia involves education regarding the nature of the problem, an exercise program and advice on stress management. However, management needs to be flexible and holistic and may involve relaxation programs, physical therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy and analgesic medication.

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