Acupuncture: Insertion of tiny needles into distinct muscle areas to stimulate the production of endorphins (natural painkilling biochemicals).
Allodynia: Condition when normally non-painful stimuli evoke pain. Persons with fibromyalgia feel pain from stimuli that elicit no response from healthy individuals.
Alternative or complementary medicine: Treatments or medications that are not viewed as traditional and have not undergone a rigorous scientific evaluation. Includes the use of herbal and mineral supplements and acupuncture, as well as other remedies and treatments.
Arthritis: Literally means joint inflammation. Term is often used to indicate more than 100 rheumatic diseases that affect not only the joints but also other connective tissues of the body.
Autoimmune disease: A disease in which the immune system destroys or attacks the patient’s own body tissue.
Biofeedback Therapy: Therapy that works to enable the user to change his or her body responses through concentration and observation of physical changes, such as body temperature and heart rate, displayed on a computer screen. Used effectively by some fibromyalgia patients to decrease their pain, fatigue, and morning stiffness and improve their sleep.
Botox injections: Injections of minute amounts of botulinum toxins into the muscles and other areas of the body where patients feel pain.
Cervical Stenosis: An abnormal narrowing of the spinal column in the neck or cervical area causing symptoms such as spastic gait; upper extremity numbness; upper extremity, lower extremity weakness or both; radicular pain in the upper limb; sphincter disturbances; muscle wasting; sensory deficits; and reflex abnormalities in reflexes. There can be many different causes for cervical stenosis. A detailed neurological examination, and potentially a MRI is required to determine if a patient has a stenosis, chiari, fibromyalgia or other condition.
Chiari Malformation (ACM, CM): A condition where part of the brain, the cerebellar tonsils, descend out of the skull through the foramen magnum and crowd the spinal cord. This pressure on the spinal cord can cause symptoms that are similar to fibromyalgia symptoms. The diagnosis of a Chiari Malformation can be difficult because the symptoms are similar to many other conditions. Detailed neurological examination, and potentially a MRI is required to determine if a patient has a chiari, cervical stenosis, fibromyalgia or other condition.
Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS): Also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). According to the 1994 International Case Definition the symptoms include: fatigue lasting for six months or longer that significantly affects lifestyle; in addition, four or more of the following symptoms must be present [along with the debilitating fatigue]:
- Post-exertional malaise (lasting more than 24 hours)
- Sleep difficulties / unrefreshing sleep
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Muscle pain
- Multi-joint pain
- Headaches of new type, pattern, or severity
- Sore throat
- Tender lymph nodes in the armpit and neck
Cortisol: A stress related hormone that’s been found in abnormal levels in some people who have fibromyalgia.
Depression: Serious form of despair that is beyond the normal feelings of sadness.
Dextromethorphan: Medication that is commonly used to treat coughs. Some research has indicated dextromethorphan may provide some pain relief in fibromyalgia.
Dopamine: A neurotransmitter that reacts similarly to adrenaline. It affects the part of the brain that controls movement and the ability to experience pleasure and pain.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS): A heterogeneous group of inheritable connective tissue disorders, is attributed to mutations in connective tissue genes. These mutations cause defects in collagen. Collagen, a connective tissue protein that acts like glue, gives strength to the body and provides support and elasticity for movement. Thus, the altered gene affects the mechanical properties of skin, joints, ligaments, and blood vessels.
Fibro Fog: Mental confusion and forgetfulness that can accompany a flare-up of fibromyalgia symptoms. Also known as brain fog.
Fibromyalgia (Fibromyalgia Syndrome, FMS): Chronic pain condition that is characterized by tender points, widespread pain, morning stiffness, sleep disturbances, distress.
FIQ (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire): An instrument designed to quantify the overall impact of fibromyalgia on a patient in several areas including function, pain level, fatique, sleep disturbance, and psychological distress. The FIQ is scored from 0 to 100, with the latter number being the worst case. The FIQ is widely used in research studies and to assess change in patient status after treatment. The FIQ has been translated into many languages. You can view the FIQ at www.myalgia.com.
Flare: A period when the disease symptoms reappear or become worse.
GHB (gamma hydroxy butarate): Also known as sodium oxybate. Trade name Xyrem. Prescription medication approved by the FDA for treatment of cataplexy in patients with narcolepsy. Recent research results show that Xyrem also relieves pain and improves sleep in fibromyalgia patients.
Guaifenesin: Drug commonly used to treat coughs, which is also used by some physicians to treat fibromyalgia. Studies have not validated this use. (see www.myalgia.com)
Gulf War Syndrome: Condition characterized by fatigue and widespread pain and body aches related to active duty in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Headaches, Tension or Migraine: Head pain that is either related to muscle tension or migraine attacks, two specific forms of headaches.
Heartburn: Chronic pain and burning in the gut that often results from gastroesophageal reflux. Stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and causes pain.
Hyperalgesia: Extreme sensitivity to painful stimuli. Pain response in persons with fibromyalgia is more elevated than healthy individuals.
Icing or Heating Therapy: Refers to therapy in which the painful areas of the body are stimulated through treatments with either ice or heat (such as a heating pad).
Interstitial Cystitis (IC): Chronic illness of pain with urination and increased urgency.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Chronic condition that is often characterized by abdominal pain in conjunction with constipation and/or diarrhea.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, SLE): an inflammatory connective tissue disease with variable features, frequently including fever, weakness and fatigability, joint pains or arthritis resembling rheumatoid arthritis.
Lyme Disease: Bacterial illness spread by a tick, which can cause severe tiredness. A blood test can confirm the presence of Lyme disease.
Massage Therapy: A form of treatment in which painful areas of the body are gently rubbed to help with pain management.
Mononucleosis: Infectious disease that can cause extreme lethargy, which may be confused with fibromyalgia; however, mononucleosis can be diagnosed with a blood test.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Syndrome (MCSS): A condition in which the person has become extremely sensitive to many substances that were never a problem before, such as odors, foods, and common items.
Myelopathy: Damage to the spinal cord. Can develop as a result of compression of the spinal cord. Often first detected as difficulty walking due to generalized weakness or problems with balance and coordination.
Myopathies: Inflammatory and noninflammatory diseases of muscle.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A condition characterized by regional pain as well as by local areas of pain (called trigger points) that the doctor can identify upon touching them.
Neuron: Nerve cell. One of the basic functional units of the nervous system: a cell specialized to transmit electrical nerve impulses and so carry information from one part of the body to another.
Neurotransmitters: Chemical substances released from the nerve endings of a neuron to transmit impulses to other neurons.
Oligoanalgesia: The under-treatment, ineffectual treatment, or lack of treatment of pain. Some patients with fibromyalgia have this problem until they find a good physician.
Pain Diary: Written record of when pain is most severe, which helps patients track conditions that may trigger pain, such as foods or other items.
Pain Management: Controlling chronic pain to a tolerable level, with medications, massage therapy, physical therapy, and other treatments.
Periodic Leg Movement Disorder (PLMD): Periodic episodes of jerking spells of the limbs during sleeping and sometimes during wakefulness. The jerking may disturb sleep. People with Restless Leg Syndrome often have Periodic Leg Movement Disorder, but not all individuals with PLMD have Restless Leg Syndrome.
Physiatrist: A physician who specializes in physical/rehabilitation medicine.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A hyper-aroused state arising from extreme stress, which may continue long after the distressing incident occurred. People who suffer from PTSD may develop physical symptoms immediately after the incident (or six months or more later) that lead to fibromyalgia.
Raynaud’s Phenomenon: When blood is restricted from reaching the fingers and toes in response to the cold. The skin turns pale and begins to tingle, becomes numb, and turns painful. There can be various causes for the restriction, including spasms in the blood vessels.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSDS): Also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. RSDS is a malfunction of part of the nervous system and the immune system as they respond to tissue damage from trauma. A minor injury, such as a sprain or deep bruise, might trigger RSDS causing nerves to misfire, sending constant pain signals to the brain.
Relaxation Therapy: Technique that allows a person under extreme stress to decrease stress levels.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): An uncontrollable need to move ones legs. Includes unexplainable feelings of crawling, creeping, pulling, tingling and twitching beneath the skin, usually between the thighs and ankles.
Rheumatologist: Physician who specializes in treating arthritis, autoimmune diseases and fibromyalgia.
Sleep Apnea: Sleep disorder in which airflow blockages during sleep at least 5-10 times per hour.
Sleep Disorders: Difficulty in getting to sleep and/or staying asleep, including sleep apnea, upper airway resistance syndrome and insomnia.
Social Security Disability Compensation: Monthly compensation and medical insurance (Medicare) provided by the Social Security Administration to eligible individuals who cannot work because of fibromyalgia or other medical problems. Individuals must apply to be considered.
Spinal Cord Compression: Damage to the spinal cord resulting from direct injury to the cord itself, or from indirect injury from damage to the bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels surrounding the spinal cord. Spinal cord compression can be caused by any number of injuries to the spine. A seemingly minor injury can cause spinal cord trauma if the spine is weakened (such as from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis) or if the spinal canal protecting the spinal cord has become too narrow (spinal stenosis) due to the normal aging process. Direct injury, such as cuts, can occur to the spinal cord, particularly if the bones or the discs have been damaged. Direct damage can also occur if the spinal cord is pulled, pressed sideways, or compressed. This may occur if the head, neck, or back are twisted abnormally during an accident or injury.
Substance P: A neurotransmitter whose levels have been shown to be higher in patients with fibromyalgia. Substance P’s main purpose is to send pain messages to the body.
Supplements: Minerals or herbs that may provide relief to people with fibromyalgia.
T’ai Chi: Chinese exercise technique that mimics the movements of animals. T’ai Chi is not physically aggressive form of exercise, and most people with fibromyalgia can tolerate performing these exercises.
Tender Points: Specific areas of the body which are very painful in fibromyalgia patients when gently probed. The American College of Rheumatology specifies 18 tender points to be tested to help doctors diagnose fibromyalgia. The official diagnosis of fibromyalgia requires that the patient feel pain in 11 or more of the 18 points to receive a diagnosis. Because of the variability of fibromyalgia, many doctors consider a patient has fibromyalgia with 10, 9 or less points and other symptoms such as fatigue.
Thyroid Disease: Malfunction of the thyroid gland that results in either abnormally high or low levels of circulating thyroid hormone.
Trigger Points: A ropey or nodular muscle area that causes pain and that can be felt by the doctor when he or she probes. Pain from the tight muscle may be felt at the nodular site, or may be referred to another area on the body.
Trigger Point Injection: Injections directly into the trigger point location. One to two percent procaine or lidocaine (local anesthetics) are usually preferred, but Botox has recently been found to help temporarily reduce localized pain and migraine headaches. Patients trying this treatment for myofascial pain should question their doctors carefully to insure the physician can clearly locate the trigger point location and that the physician has experience with trigger point injections. The physician may wish to perform myofascial spray and stretch techniques prior to the injections to enhance their benefit. The physician will apply a vapocoolant spray, such as ethyl chloride, on the skin over the trigger point while performing a passive stretch of the muscle.
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS): Erratic breathing pattern at night causing blood oxygenation levels to drop. Studies have shown UARS correlates to symptoms of daytime fatigue and pain. People with UARS do not meet the criteria for sleep apnea, but do exhibit the effects of partially obstructed airways causing unrefreshing sleep.
Vulvodynia: Generalized discomfort in the vulva with no visible rash.
Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome (VVS): Pain in the vestibule (vagina). VVS and interstitial cystitis sometimes go together because the main nerve that controls the bladder also serves the vulvar region. Less likely in women with fibromyalgia.