Fibromyalgia and Sleep

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Further research is needed to understand the nature of the relationship between pain and sleep and to develop treatments that can help to improve both pain symptoms and sleep disturbance.

The cause of fibromyalgia is not known but there may be several factors involved. Clinicians who care for patients with fibromyalgia report a range of possible causes such as repetitive stress injuries, automobile accidents or other traumatic events. In some cases, fibromyalgia seems to run in families, although researchers are not sure if this is due to genetic or environmental factors. Fibromyalgia is considered a rheumatoid condition, but it is not truly a form of arthritis. However, people with arthritis are more likely to have fibromyalgia.

A variety of studies have been conducted to find connections between fibromyalgia and other medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, arthritis, lupus, and major depressive disorder. The results of these studies have been largely inconclusive with respect to specific relationships, but many have established a link between fibromyalgia and heavy use of physician services. In other words, people with fibromyalgia tend to seek medical treatment significantly more often than people without it.

About 20% of fibromyalgia patients also have depression or anxiety disorder. Scientists have recently looked at whether chronic pain may cause depression or whether depression may play a role in people's perception of pain. For example, researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Cologne in Germany conducted a study of people with fibromyalgia which sought to reveal why symptoms of depression are sometimes associated with increased sensitivity to pain. The researchers were aware that fibromyalgia patients typically show a higher than normal sensitivity to pain regardless of whether they had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder or reported any depressive symptoms. What they were trying to determine was whether antidepressant medication might alleviate this heightened sensitivity. Based on the results of this study, the researchers concluded that treating depression in people with fibromyalgia will not necessarily have an impact on the patients' complaints of pain. Instead, they recommend treating pain and fatigue symptoms separately