Fibromyalgia (rheumatic disease)

Fibromyalgia is characterized by pain throughout the body (soft tissues of and around joints). Fibromyalgia patients have greatly reduced functional capabilities that have a major impact on their quality of life. Fibromyalgia has long been seen as undetectable, ‘psychological’ and not taken seriously for quite some time. Furthermore, there appears to be an overlap between fibromyalgia and conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).


Fibromyalgia is characterized by pain throughout the body. Some fibromyalgia patients have a very low quality of life and the reduced functional capabilities are not only a concern for the patient himself, but also for his immediate environment and society. Sometimes people with fibromyalgia seek help and guidance as they suffer from pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue, depressed mood and sleep disorders. The complaints are not always strong or serious. They can go up and down.
Fibromyalgia literally means: pain in connective tissues and muscles. Pain is felt in the so-called soft tissues of and around joints . Physical examination reveals tender points: painful areas on the body. Although everyone can experience pressure sores to a certain extent, this is to an extreme extent in a patient with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a condition of which the exact cause is unknown. It can also be difficult to diagnose medically. That is, no ‘demonstrable signs’ of inflammation or tissue damage have been observed (yet) medically speaking in fibromyalgia patients . In other words: there are no (diagnostic) measuring instruments to determine the ‘abnormalities’. Fibromyalgia patients often seek understanding for their invisible ailment. They experience the gap between the seriousness of their complaints and the absence of ‘objective deviations’ as unfair and often feel misunderstood and not taken seriously.

View on fibromyalgia

When the classification criteria for fibromyalgia were published in 1990, this condition was still often considered a psychological problem. However, physiological indicators have since been found for:

  • Enhanced transmission of pain signals to the brain
  • Decreased inhibition of pain and
  • Disrupted hormonal stress responses.

More and more research shows that there are somatic indications of generalized pain in fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia criteria

Fibromyalgia has two classification criteria, if it is present:

  • Generalized pain for at least 3 months, i.e. pain in the left and right half of the body, above and below the navel, and axially (in the back, chest or neck)
  • Pain on palpation of 11 or more of 18 tender spots on the body.

symptoms may occur, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Morning stiffness
  • Sleep disorder
  • Headache
  • Fear
  • Spastic colon

Fibromyalgia affects 2 in 100 adults and mainly affects women. The condition usually manifests itself between the ages of 25 and 40. (as with cancer and many other somatic disorders) there appear to be several hereditary and environmental factors underlying the development of chronic, generalized pain without demonstrable damage in the body.

Fibromyalgia Primary Secondary

Fibromyalgia can be primary or secondary, i.e. without or with underlying disease, respectively. Examples of such an underlying condition are:

  • Sj√∂gren’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or hypothyroidism (thyroid)
  • Sometimes the symptoms of secondary fibromyalgia are reduced by treating the underlying disease.

Fibromyalgia Characteristics :

  • Allodynia : the sensation of pain with stimuli that do not normally cause pain (such as stroking, gentle pressing, moderate heat or cold and changes in position) and
  • Hyperalgesia : an enhanced experience of pain in response to painful stimuli.

These characteristics distinguish Fibromyalgia from other pain disorders, such as chronic low back pain, whiplash or tension headaches.

Fibromyalgia CFS IBS

Fibromyalgia appears to have an overlap with the following conditions:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CFS
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

When generalized pain is more prominent than fatigue or other complaints, the classification as fibromyalgia is the most obvious. There could be similarities between Fibromyalgia, CFS and IBS, especially at the level of the limbic system . However, there are also differences in hormonal responses and concentrations of substances (for example pain-enhancing substances) in the body.
Fibromyalgia, together with CFS, distinguishes itself from depression . Depressed patients respond to an increase in physical exertion with a reduction in negative mood, while patients with fibromyalgia and CFS respond with an increase in negative mood and exhaustion.
For more information, information and contact with fellow citizens:

  • National Rheumatism Fund ( and
  • Patient association fibromyalgia patients : Eendrachtig Sterk ( FES –

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