The exact cause of fibromyalgia is somewhat of a mystery
to medical science. However research has identified several factors that may be
involved in causing fibromyalgia. This includes risk factors that may increase a
person’s chance of developing the syndrome.
Fibromyalgia can run in families. It’s likely that there
is an unidentified genetic abnormality that makes certain people more at risk
for fibromyalgia. The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) states that certain genes may regulate the way that
the body regulates pain responses. Scientists speculate that people with
fibromyalgia may carry one or more genes that cause them to react strongly to
stimuli that another person may not perceive as painful.
For many patients, symptoms begin after emotional or
physical trauma or a bout with an infectious disease. These do not likely cause fibromyalgia by themselves, but
may trigger the onset in people who are already at risk for it.
Problems with getting enough sleep, or spending enough time in the deepest stages of
sleep, are common in this disorder. However, doctors are not sure if this is a
symptom or a cause of the disorder. Improper sleep patterns can affect the
levels of some of the brain chemicals listed above.
There are several factors that indicate an increased risk of
fibromyalgia. However, their presence doesn’t mean one will certainly be
diagnosed with the syndrome.
According to the NIAMS, Women
are eight to nine times more likely than men to have fibromyalgia. Scientists
believe female reproductive hormones may play a role in the pain disorder.
According to the NIAMS, the
most common age to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia is early to middle adulthood,
between 20 and 50 years old.
If you have a close family member with fibromyalgia, you are
more likely to be diagnosed yourself.
It is not known if sleep problems are a symptom or a cause
of fibromyalgia. However, people who have disorders affecting sleep such
as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are more likely to have the pain
Other Rheumatic Diseases
Rheumatic diseases affect the joints, muscles, and bones.
People who have another rheumatic disease are more likely to have fibromyalgia
as well. These diseases include: