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Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread and non-specific musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and inexplicably weak or tender points on the body. Individuals with fibromyalgia tend to feel tenderness in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. Other symptoms of this syndrome are sleep disturbances, morning stiffness, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome.

The actual cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Researchers have several theories about what triggers of the disorder. Some doctors believe that an injury or trauma that has affected the central nervous system may cause the syndrome. Others believe an infectious agent such as a virus may trigger the syndrome, however this virus has yet to be identified.

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic those of other disorders. The physician reviews the patient’s medical history and makes a diagnosis of fibromyalgia based on a history of chronic widespread pain that persists for more than 3 months. A person is considered to have fibromyalgia if he or she has widespread pain in combination with tenderness in at least eleven of eighteen specific tender points.

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise, such as swimming and walking, d reduces the muscle pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia may benefit from a combination of medication, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques.

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