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Dealing with Fibromyalgia
While nearly two percent of the population in the U.S. has this disease, most people don't know what it is.
Fibromyalgia (FM) affects nearly two percent of the population in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Doctors aren't sure what causes the disease, but they do know it's a rheumatic syndrome that can cause widespread pain in muscles, tendons and connective tissues.

Tender points include the neck, shoulders, chest, lower back, hips, shins, elbows, and knees. Pain can spread out from these points. It can be minor at times, or it can be quite serious.

To further complicate things, pain might not be present at all. This chronic condition may come and go for years. According to the CDC, more women have FM than men, and it's most likely to begin at midlife. FM is the third most common rheumatic disorder in the United States and can occur along with other rheumatic conditions.

Treatment includes over-the-counter and prescription medications. The disease does not prevent most people from staying in the workforce, although the symptoms can cause lost workdays.

If you are diagnosed with FM, selfcare and a healthy lifestyle are essential in preventing flare-ups. This includes stress reduction, avoiding overexertion, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating wholesome foods.

Massage therapy can relax muscles, improve range of motion and relieve stress and anxiety. Practicing yoga and tai chi have also been found to be helpful.

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say if you have FM, besides handling pain, you will need to deal with the frustration of having a condition that's often misunderstood. In addition to educating yourself about FM, it's helpful to educate your friends and co-workers.

It may also be helpful to know you are not alone. Organizations such as the National Fibromyalgia Association and the American Chronic Pain Association will put you in contact with people who have had similar experiences.