Understanding the Terminology of Fibromyalgia Syndrome

Fibromyalgia Syndrome: Fibro = fibrous tissue, my = muscle, and algia = aching. The term refers to aching in the muscles and soft tissues. Syndrome means a group of symptoms.

Tender Points: These are normal areas in the muscles that are tender to pressure in everyone, but they may be especially tender in people with fibromyalgia syndrome.

Trigger Points: These are abnormal areas of concentrated tightness in the muscles. When applying pressure to them they may cause pain to spread or to be felt in a region other than the area being pressed on. There can also be changes in sweating and skin temperature in the same region. People with severe trigger point pain in a defined region may be described as having a myofascial pain syndrome.

Pain versus Tenderness: Pain is something you feel without anyone touching you. Tenderness is pain or discomfort that you feel when someone pokes or presses on your body.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) is a specific disorder that involves profound fatigue, memory and thinking problems, and symptoms of a hyperactive immune system, such as a low-grade fever, swollen lymph glands, and chronic sore throat. You may have fatigue that is chronic as a symptom of fibromyalgia, but it is not as debilitating as the fatigue experienced by people with CFIDS. However, it is quite common for people with CFIDS to develop fibromyalgia because conditions that cause severe fatigue or sleep problems may trigger fibromyalgia syndrome.

Neurochemicals or Neurotransmitters: These are the chemicals between nerve cells that transmit messages. Examples include adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin.

Flare-up: This refers to an increase in the symptoms of pain, soreness, tightness, fatigue, and general feeling of tenseness.