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Fibromyalgia is a long term condition characterised by widespread muscle pain and fatigue. It is thought to affect 3-5% of the population. It can affect anyone at any age but is more common in women. The term 'fibromyalgia' literally means pain in muscles and fibrous tissues (ie: tendons and ligaments).
Tender points are specific places on the body (18 specific points at 9 bilateral locations) that are exceptionally sensitive to the touch in people with fibromyalgia upon examination by a doctor.Tender points of fibromyalgia exist at these nine bilateral muscle locations:
Low Cervical Region: (front neck area) at anterior aspect of the interspaces between the transverse processes of C5-C7.
Second Rib: (front chest area) at second costochondral junctions.
Occiput: (back of the neck) at suboccipital muscle insertions.
Trapezius Muscle: (back shoulder area) at midpoint of the upper border.
Supraspinatus Muscle: (shoulder blade area) above the medial border of the scapular spine.
Lateral Epicondyle: (elbow area) 2 cm distal to the lateral epicondyle.
Gluteal: (rear end) at upper outer quadrant of the buttocks.
Greater Trochanter: (rear hip) posterior to the greater trochanteric prominence.
Knee: (knee area) at the medial fat pad proximal to the joint line.
For many years it was thought that fibromyalgia was psychologically based but is now recognised as a medical condition in its own right and research into the condition has increased.
Approximately 80% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women and the condition is most commonly diagnosed in the 30 to 45 year age group.
The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. There are indications that an injury, infection or illness may trigger the condition. There are also indications that hereditary factors are involved in the development of fibromyalgia as sometimes it occurs in several members of one family.
Patients with fibromyalgia are deficient in Vitamin D, 100% of the time. The more severe the fibromyalgia, the lower the Vitamin D levels. The signs of Vitamin D Deficiency were muscle aches (myalgias), joint pains (arthralgias) and generalized fatigue.
It is thought that fibromyalgia may be due to a malfunction in the way the central nervous system processes pain signals. This leads to people with fibromyalgia experiencing as pain, sensations that other people might perceive as uncomfortable.
Two brain chemicals, Serotonin and Substance P, are thought to play a role in the condition.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that enables the transmission of nerve impulses) that influences mood, appetite, pain perception, sexual function, anxiety, temperature control and sleep. Studies have indicated that levels of this chemical are lower than usual in people with fibromyalgia.
Substance P, another neurotransmitter, is involved in transmitting pain sensations to the brain and also regulates the way we perceive pain. Some studies have found substantially elevated levels of this substance in people with fibromyalgia.