At the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome held in Florida in January 2007, it was announced that Genetic research has discovered that Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgica are SEPARATE illnesses.

Fibromyalgia is not a new illness but has been around for several centuries under different names. In 1990, the American Rheumatological Association officially recognized Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic musculo-skeletal pain and tenderness on palpitation of tendinomuscular sites called 'tender points'. Fibromyalgia affects children, youth and adults of all ethnic origins.


FIBRO - connective tissue (i.e. tendons and ligaments)
MY - muscle ALGIA - pain


Tender Points

  • areas of increased sensitivity to pressure over well-defined anatomical areas of the body enable a physician to diagnose fibromyalgia objectively and accurately
  • although the locations are identical in all people with fibromyalgia, the number of tender points may vary with each person Non-Restorative Sleep
  • This is not the same as insomnia. There are scientifically proven differences in sleep quality between people with fibromyalgia and people with insomnia
  • patients awaken unrefreshed and may suffer stiffened and painful muscles

Other Symptoms

  • fatigue
  • irritable bowel - frequent diarrhea and/or constipation
  • irritable bladder
  • morning stiffness
  • cognitive and memory dysfunction
  • muscle twitching
  • post-exertional pain and malaise
  • jaw pain
  • feeling of burning in the muscles
  • some individuals develop environmental sensitivities
  • sensitivities to cold, light, noise
  • sensitivities to weather changes, smoke, noise, light, cold and drafts

Fibromyalgia can be the primary disorder or can co-exist with other health disorders.

Fibromyalgia consensus document published in the Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Fibromyalgia Consensus Document, similar to the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Document is available from Haworth Press, New York, USA. To order, please call the Publisher, Haworth Press, at: 1-800-429-6784. Thanks again to the National ME/FM Action Network for implementing this very important project!

Fibromyalgia - Coping Skills


Be kind to yourself.

  • Adapt your lifestyle to help you conserve your energy and minimize your pain.

  • Consider purchasing an inexpensive head set for your telephone or speaker phone if it is too painful to hold a telephone receiver.

  • Some find relief from sacs filled with grains, heated in microwaves and applied to painful areas, or warm water hydrotherapy.

  • Others find massage or very gentle stretching exercises, learning relaxation techniques, acupuncture or shiastui beneficial. Tai Chi offers classes for the disabled promoting gentle stretching exercises.


Deep sleep is crucial for our body to function and repair. Physicians may prescribe a low dose antidepressant to improve the quality of your sleep.

Relaxation Techniques

Pain causes stress and stress makes coping with pain more difficult. Learning relaxation techniques may help reduce your stress and by trying various techniques, you will find one that you are comfortable with.

Relaxation techniques needs to be practiced and in time can become part of your daily routine, calling upon them whenever you need to. Ask your physician for instruction and there are many books on relaxation techniques available at your local library.

Fibromyalgia - Children and Youths

As with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia also affects children and youths.

Fibromyalgia in children may start with a flu-like illness or it may have a gradual onset. If a child has a restless sleep, which includes kicking or twitching in their sleep, have aches and pains, then Fibromyalgia must be considered. In addition, the child may experience stomach pains, diarrhea and frequent urination.

Schooling may be difficult as the child may experience cognitive difficulties, have poor coordination, and lack the energy needed to keep up with the normal activities of childhood and school. They may also be falling asleep at school because of their exhaustion. Parents and teachers should be aware that the child's symptoms fluctuate and allow flexibility in their schedules of daily activities and schooling.

Children at a very young age may have Fibromyalgia and may assume that having pain is normal. Very young children may lack the maturity to verbally express their symptoms.

Children and youth with Fibromyalgia may not be able to keep up with their friends and may therefore miss many social and school activities. Parents and teachers should therefore watch them for signs if depression and, if necessary, see that they are given appropriate treatment. Children and youth may lack the maturity to develop coping skills and may need guidance in learning how to cope with having Fibromyalgia.

Early diagnosis and proper treatment is critical for the child to have a lessening of their symptoms and possible recovery. In addition, a parent should thoroughly inform their child’s teachers and principal about Fibromyalgia. In some cases, home schooling may be required with the assistance of a tutor.

Fibromyalgia - Suggested reading

There are books available at your local library.

  • Hope and Help For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia by Alison C. Bested, MD F.R.C.P. (C)., Alan C. Logan, ND, and Russell Howe, attorney

  • Fibromyalgia Advocate by Devin Staryanl M.D.

  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Myofascial Pain: A Survivor's Guide by Devin Staryanl M.D. and Mary Ellen Copeland

  • Fibromyalgia: Managing the Pain, The Fibromyalgia Survivor by Mark Pellingrino M.D.

  • Fibromyalgia: A comprehensive Approach by Erich Williamson

  • Betrayal of the Brain: The Neurological Basis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia & Related Neural Disorders by Dr. Jay Goldstein - published in 1996

An interactive presentation about fibromyalgia has been created by The Patient Education Institute in conjunction with the US Government's National Library of Medicine. The presentation covers the basics of fibromyalgia, such as symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. It includes lots of graphics and a soundtrack, and would be a good introduction to someone who wants to learn about FM, or a refresher for those who are too tired to read.