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Fibromyalgia, "It's like getting run over by a Mack truck."

kgould's picture

You feel achy and sore, like every muscle in your body has been overworked or pulled. You can't focus; you've been having trouble sleeping and you wake up several times a night. It hurts to sit up in class, it hurts to move, and it hurts whenever someone touches your back or your shoulders. You've been experiencing mood swings and depression and, on top of all that, your stomach hurts. So what's the deal? It might be fibromyalgia.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects the muscles, ligaments, and tendons—the soft, fibrous tissues of the body. Pain occurs in areas of one’s body where pressure is applied, commonly the back of the head, the neck, back, chest, elbows, hips, and knees. The pain is constant, for months at a time, and is often accompanied by stiffness. “The pain of fibromyalgia has no boundaries” (1). It can be stabbing, throbbing, or generally aching. Many patients with fibromyalgia experience muscle twitches, tingling or burning sensations in the affected regions of their body.

Fibromyalgia is also characterized by fatigue, a “brain fatigue,” where patients feel totally drained of energy. Also, trouble concentrating and trouble with memory, commonly called “fibro fog,” is another symptom of fibromyalgia (2).

Most fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder called the alpha-EEG anomaly. Patients can fall asleep fairly quickly, but their deep level (stage 4) sleep is often interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity. Fibromyalgia patients appear to spend the night half-asleep and half-awake. "If you wake up feeling as though you've just been run over by a Mack truck—what doctors refer to as unrefreshing sleep—it is reasonable for your physician to assume that you have a sleep disorder" (2).

A variety of other symptoms occur in those with fibromyalgia, including headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, painful cramping during menstruation, and heightened sensitivity to light, odor, and touch (1).

Fibromyalgia affects 1 in 50 Americans, 80-90% of them women. Most people are diagnosed in middle age. Fibromyalgia can occur by itself, but often occurs with other pain disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis (3).    


So here’s the hundred dollar question. What causes fibromyalgia? No one really knows. Suggested causes include: immune system problems, physically unfit muscles, disturbance in brain chemistry (clinical depression), sleep disturbances or insomnia, food allergy, emotional stress, nutritional deficiencies, or even anemia (4).

There are some “triggers” that seem to exacerbate systems in fibromyalgia patients. These include: overexertion, stress, lack of exercise, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep or sleep disturbances, trauma, or infectious illness (4).

        Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is difficult, but is typically based upon two criteria. The patient must have chronic, widespread pain lasting more than 3 months, present on both the left and right sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. The patient must also have the presence of tender points. The body has 18 possible tender paints and, in order for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, the patient must have 11 or more (3).

        Treatment for fibromyalgia is also difficult, but is usually focused on treating the symptoms. The pain is often treated with Acetaminophen (Tylenol), sometimes in conjunction with an NSAID, like Ibuprofen. Depression and sleeping disorders are treated with anti-depressants like amtriptyline or paroxetine. Eating better, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and reducing stress will all help improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia (1).




Hicham's picture

Crazy none stop pain

I'm a nurse and for couple of years9had so much pain in the lower part of my body and never paid much attention to it, I thought it is just because of the work and as an emergency nurse no way for resting made my pain more severe and couldn't stand on my legs anymore. Visited couple of stupid doctors till I met a specialist in that field and here we go # you have fibromyalagia. Pain every inch of my body . Summer is OK winter it kills my brain, endep 25mg I take but it drives me nuts that I can't work or do anything physical work at all. I have to stop here I don't want to bore anyone.

Serendip Visitor's picture

all of the links you have

all of the links you have listed are from a western medical perspective. you should try investigating this through a traditional chinese medicine perspective or a taoist idea of medicine. you might actually get somewhere. those links only operate within pharmaceutical-company approved ideas.

Serendip Visitor's picture


What is the point of this article? it offers no insight.
I have read that wheat allergy can actually seriously cause and/or aggravate fibromyalgia. doctors just tell you that you have fibromyalgia--fibro--connective tissue ,mya (greek Myo) muscle, algia pain. yep great job. we just dont have a drug to sell you yet.

pretty sure traditional chinese medicine has a totally different view on this than phamaceutical companies.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I googled "run over by a

I googled "run over by a truck" because I was. I find it offensive for people who haven't to say they feel like they have. If you haven't been run over by a truck YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT FEELS. It feels like you are dying because you are. I arrived in the emergency room with BP of 70/50 and a HR of 120. I had 20 blood transfusions and an unstable open pelvic fracture. I waited an hour before getting any pain meds. So tell me, do you feel like you have been run over by a truck? I'm sorry you have pain but please find another analogy. You're clogging up the internet with this one.

Tina's picture

Asthma, chronic pain 6 year s, fibro 8 years , anxiety and insom

Listen I know what pain is , has someone ever suffocated you with a pillow???? While your in pain and your muscles r on fire with no sleep and anxiety.. Oh ya I left out my endometriosis, during the time of the month when I have all 7 things firing at me and I’ve been hit by a car feeling, had a collapse lung with my asthma 4 back surgeries 2 fusions.... If anyone knows pain its me and. I’m 40.... I’ve been dealing with this for ever. SO don’t even say you people out there are clogging up the internet cuz everyone has different levels of pain.

Christine Eichhorn's picture

your reply is hilarious. Get

your reply is hilarious. Get a life man.

Don's picture

Fibromyalgia Research Study

Treatments for Fibromyalgia are one of the research studies we've been working on here in DeLand, Florida. Some of our investigational treatments have shown promising results, but there is we need to do additional research studies to test investigational methods that may help us understand your condition.