Find a Top Doc

Fibromyalgia is Shockingly Similar to Other Conditions

Fibromyalgia is Shockingly Similar to Other Conditions

Fibromyalgia, a condition that had once been considered a purely somatic disorder, is still causing significant distress among the medical community despite recent advances in the technology of the field. As of today, researchers know more than ever about the disease, but they still have a tough time identifying its symptoms, as well as correctly diagnosing it due to its excessive similarities to other diseases. The truth is, over 90% of fibromyalgia cases still go undiagnosed even today, and this is mostly because its symptoms are very similar to the ones present in other conditions, or can be simply attributed to lifestyle factors.

Fibromyalgia, also abbreviated as FM, is a rheumatoid disease characterized by generalized pain, fatigue, and weakness, all of which persist during a period of more than 3 months and can be extended for several years. The disease’s etiology is unknown and can affect individuals of any age, though it is much more common in women, at a ratio of about 10 to 1. In other words, women have about 90% more probability of developing the disease at some point in their lives, especially during early and late adulthood. The disease can cause significant damage to the person’s health, functionality, and mood, as well as generate great duress in their interpersonal relationships and quality of life. 

According to a study performed by the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, it is estimated that there the prevalence of this disease of around 2.73% in Spain, a figure that is also observed in the United States. However, in many cases, there are significant complications in determining whether the symptoms are due to fibromyalgia, or another disease that could also cause the significant pain in the person. Dr. Vicente Roques, M.D., of the Pain Unit of the Quirónsalud Hospital in Murcia, states that “it is practically impossible to detect the disease using traditional testing techniques, such as a medical examination or an x-ray; in fact, all the symptomatology of the disease seems to manifest despite the lack of organic alterations or physical damage to justify them. Furthermore, the disease tends to manifest alongside other rheumatoid or psychological disorders, further complicating its diagnosis.”

Due to these difficulties, fibromyalgia has been divided into several types by researchers to organize the severity of the disease:

  • Type I: Patients with no underlying disease
  • Type II: Patients with underlying rheumatoid or autoimmune disorders
  • Type III: Patients with grave psychological disorders

Regardless of the type, the factors that lead to the onset of the disease still remain a complete mystery. It is clear that most of the symptoms surface despite a lack of physical alterations to justify them. Consequently, said symptoms have been attributed to a chemical imbalance in the nervous system that affects the person’s ability to regulate and control pain. Specifically, scientists speculate that fibromyalgia is caused by a reduction in the person’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can help in pain regulation, and the lack of which may cause a disorder in the perception, transmission, and modulation of painful stimuli, diminishing the person’s pain threshold in the process. When you add stress, a hectic lifestyle, and an excessive amount of fatigue to the mix, then it’s the perfect recipe for fibromyalgia and all its symptoms.