The Truth About Fibromyalgia

This little-understood pain syndrome can interfere with daily life, sleep, and mood. Here’s how to find relief.

Fibromyalgia, a potentially debilitating syndrome marked by chronic body-wide pain and fatigue, has long been hard to diagnose and treat.

For years, doctors were unsure who even had this ailment, because there’s no definitive test for it. And its symptoms could be attributed to many other conditions. Nevertheless, it’s believed to affect some 10 million Americans. Some doctors also considered it a psychological, not physical, ailment, and the treatments that have often been used, including opioid painkillers, didn’t always help a lot.

While significant challenges remain, better tools for determining who really has fibromyalgia and more evidence on effective lifestyle strategies are now emerging. “We are certainly learning more about the disease and making incremental progress,” says Michael Hochman, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California, who treats many people with fibromyalgia.

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