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Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic, complex illness characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and other issues. A person with FM suffers from a wide variety of symptoms, which can fluctuate in degree of severity or remain constant. The condition may be mild, moderate or severe. FM can be very debilitating, affecting all aspects of a person’s daily life, often leading to significant disability.
FM is a common disorder that seems to affect more women than men, although men, women and children of all ages are diagnosed with the condition. 519,146 people with FM were identified in the 2014 Canadian Community Health Survey.
Although the cause of FM is not yet understood, the onset of the disorder has been often associated with some form of physical trauma and most often related to a whiplash-type injury. Research has strongly suggested the involvement of the neurological system in the development of FM along with a suspected genetic disposition. At present, there is no definitive cause and no known cure for FM, a fact which challenges patients and health care professionals alike.
Currently there are no diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis of FM, although FM is actively diagnosed by examination of specific tender points throughout the body in correlation with a patient’s symptomatology and history. It is important for patients and their doctors to distinguish FM symptoms from other medical conditions a patient many also have in order to receive appropriate treatment and health care.
There is a severe shortage of doctors who are familiar with the illness, or who will even take patients seriously.