Fibromyalgia​​


Chronic, widespread aches and pain spread across your body, with specific tender points is defined as Fibromyalgia. Pain starts from muscles and the points where muscle attaches to bone. This disease (characterized by amplified sensation of pain) increases your chances of having to face anxiety, depression, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), restless leg syndrome and migraines.     ​

Females are affected about three times more than males. It primarily affects those between the ages of twenty five and forty five years.

We do not know why this happens but here is a theory that researchers have suggested. Normally, your body needs some time off to relax after a period of stress (issues with finances, marriage, work, recent loss of close person). If stress is continuously bothering you (distress) and you are either consciously or unconsciously tensed most days, there is an abnormal increase in the production of pain chemicals in your body. They keep sending pain signals to your brain and bring down your natural threshold of pain, so you perceive the pain to be worse than it actually is. In addition, your brain seems to remember pain and becomes more sensitive to it. Thus it overreacts to even the smallest signals. 

Although stress is not the actual cause of fibromyalgia, the disease commonly crops up after physical or significant emotional trauma (like post-traumatic stress disorder - PTSD), infection or recent surgery. It is also noted that you may have a greater chance of being affected if you are already battling rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus. However in many cases there is no identifiable triggering event. Genetics may have a role too.

If you believe you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, you may report of the following symptoms:

  • Aches, stiffness and tender points spread throughout your body 

  • Easily getting tired

  • Disturbed sleep 

  • Feeling that your joints are swollen when they are actually not

  • Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet

  • Lowered exercise endurance

  • Anxiety and depressed mood

  • Difficulty remembering things, paying attention or concentrating​

​Any one or combination of the above symptoms, especially if they are bothersome over a period of months, should be a sign to get a medical consult. Please do not hesitate to contact the Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

For a preliminary examination, you can consult a doctor at the Family Health Services.

​Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Talking to your doctor in detail and allowing them to perform a physical examination, is key to identifying fibromyalgia.  According to the diagnostic criteria for this disease, there are eighteen tender points on the body. Your doctor may choose to press firmly at these specific sites and check your response.

However, if you have had widespread pain across your body for more than 3 months, your doctor will diagnose it as fibromyalgia.

Some blood tests (such as ESR or thyroid test) might be ordered to rule out other disorders.

Exercise, relaxation and stress reduction are the primary methods of combating fibromyalgia. Your doctor can recommend an exercise program, physical therapy, relaxation techniques, heat/cold treatments and/or massage therapy.

Medications in oral form (anti-depressants, painkiller) may be prescribed to help you with the anxiety, depression, pain and sleep.

​The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage​




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.