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Chronic Muscle Pain

Robert M. Kidd, M.D.

If you are tired and fatigued and if your muscles ache all over, you may suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), which is characterized by widespread pain and tenderness at specific points on certain muscle groups (joints are not usually involved). Symptoms most often come from hip, back, shoulder and neck muscles and usually arise gradually, often following a sprain, strain, whiplash, or other trauma. Some patients report FMS symptom onset following viral or bacterial infection. Many sufferers say it feels like they have the flu all the time.

FMS remains a painful and poorly understood condition. There is no single cause. It seems to strike women between the ages of 20 and 50 (about 25 percent of those with FMS are men), and there is no single treatment that is effective for every person. The signs and symptoms include fatigue, chronic muscle ache, sleep disturbance, anxiety, tenderness at specific muscle points, morning stiffness, intestinal complaints, and shortness of breath.

There are no laboratory tests that can confirm a diagnosis of FMS. However, some practitioners of holistic medicine may order functional tests to determine if a metabolic imbalance is the source of muscle pain and fatigue. There are no generally effective medical treatments, either. However, aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin and other medications have been effectively used to relieve musculoskeletal pain, and the antidepressant Elavil has been helpful for some FMS patients.

What can be said is that recovery from FMS requires an integrated approach that includes nutrition, diet therapy, mind/body work, medication in some cases, exercise, lifestyle modification, acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation and other modalities provided by a team approach with different professionals working together.

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