Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that is characterized by chronic widespread pain and multiple other symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, stiffness, and depressive episodes. Fibromyalgia may coexist and/or overlap with other conditions that may involve central sensitivity, including chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis, and temporomandibular disorder. The pathophysiology of fibromyalgia remains uncertain but is believed to be partly the result of central systems affecting afferent processing as well as impaired endogenous pain inhibitory systems.
Fibromyalgia appears to have been identified in approximately 2% to 4% of the general population. Fibromyalgia is predominantly diagnosed in subjects between the ages of 20 and 60 years old, with approximately 80% of cases being female. Less cases of fibromyalgia being identified/diagnosed in men could be a function of a missed diagnosis. There is a high aggregation of fibromyalgia in families of patients with fibromyalgia.
Despite the high prevalence of fibromyalgia, as well as the increasing public awareness and physician acceptance of the syndrome, understanding its pathophysiology and finding effective treatments continues to be a complex endeavor.