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Fibromyalgia Characterized by Chronic Pain and Fatigue

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I am a 45-year-old female with aches and pain all over my body. I am also tired all the time. A coworker suggested that because I am female that I should get tested for Fibromyalgia. What do you think?



Dear Tired,

You should make an appointment to see your doctor for a thorough check up in order to see what may be causing your pain and fatigue.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain disorder that can affect any part of the body, but most commonly the neck, back, shoulders, hands and pelvis area. Besides pain, additional symptoms may include exhaustion, sleep problems, headaches, anxiety, dizziness, difficultly concentrating, and vision problems.

Although most prevalent in women, it can affect men and children. About 10 million people in the United States have Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnosis. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (, there are no lab tests for diagnosing FM. Doctors must examine the patient for multiple tender points.

Diagnostic criteria for FM:

1. Pain for at least three months in all four body quadrants (above and below the waist and both sides of the body)

2. Pain or tenderness when pressure is applied in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points.

The National Fibromyalgia Association reports:

"It is estimated that it takes an average of five years for an FM patient to get an accurate diagnosis. Many doctors are still not adequately informed or educated about FM. Laboratory tests often prove negative and many FM symptoms overlap with those of other conditions... Another essential point that must be considered is that the presence of other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, does not rule out an FM diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is not a diagnosis of exclusion and must be diagnosed by its own characteristic features."

For more information about Fibromyalgia, see the National Fibromyalgia Association at