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What is Fibromyalgia (FM)?


What is FM?

Fibromyalgia, FM, is a chronic illness that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as fatigue and trouble sleeping. People with FM do not experience post-exertional malaise (PEM), as seen in ME and Long-COVID. 


Fibro  = Fibrous tissue
My = Muscle

Algia = Pain

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Who can get FM?

FM can affect children and adults. However, most people are diagnosed mid-life. FM often occurs after a significant event, such as severe illness or infection, physical trauma (such as surgery or a car accident), or significant psychological stress.


In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

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Impact of FM

FM symptoms, such as chronic pain, sleep and/or cognitive dysfunction, can result in disability from work-life and/or activities of daily living.


Also, like ME and Long-COVID, FM greatly impacts quality of life.  

FM pain can vary from person to person. Pain can also vary in location and intensity on a daily or hourly basis. 

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Overlap of FM, ME and Long-Covid

There is some overlap and similarity in symptoms between Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Long-COVID, and Fibromyalgia (FM), but these are distinct conditions with different diagnostic criteria.  FM is also the most common comorbidity of ME, with an estimate of over 35% of Canadians with ME also having FM.


While ME, Long-COVID and FM can all include symptoms of fatigue, cognitive impairment and pain, FM does not usually manifest with  post-exertional malaise (PEM, or worsening of symptoms with physical, cognitive or emotional exertion), one of the hallmark symptoms of ME and Long-COVID.

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Treatments and resources

HealthLink BC

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Complex Chronic Diseases Program (CCDP), BC Womens
and Childrens Hospital
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