People with fibromyalgia have widespread pain, aches and stiffness in muscles and joints throughout the body along with unusual tiredness. There is no known cause of fibromyalgia. In addition, doctors can't find a physical reason for the symptoms. Blood tests, X-rays and other tests usually are normal in people with fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a controversial illness. Some physicians don't believe that it's a medical illness but may be a reflection of psychological distress or stress. However, there's no proof of a psychological cause either. Until we have a better understanding of the disorder, it's likely to remain controversial.
It may be that fibromyalgia has more than one cause. Some researchers have suggested that it's related to abnormalities in a non-dream part of the sleep cycle or to low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates sleep and pain perception. Other theories have linked fibromyalgia to low levels of somatomedin C, a chemical related to muscle strength and muscle repair, or to high levels of substance P, a chemical that affects the threshold at which a person experiences pain. Still others have cited trauma, blood-flow abnormalities in the muscles, viral infections or other infections as possible triggers of fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 3.4% of women and 0.5% of men in the United States, or 3 million to 6 million Americans. It most commonly affects women of childbearing age or older. In fact, some estimates suggest that more than 7% of women in their 70s have fibromyalgia. Many people with fibromyalgia also have psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety or eating disorders, although the relationship between them remains unclear.
After reading about others' experiences with Cymbalta, I was very hesitant to try it. However, I got to a point where I was willing to do anything to feel 'normal' again. I started Cymbalta (30mg) about 3 months ago and I am SO glad I did. The first week was unpleasant -- I was close to stopping it, but my family encouraged me to give it a fair shot. By the second week things were better. Now (still on 30mg) the only side effects that remain are loss of appetite (causing weight loss), occasional vivid dreams, and some difficulty with orgasm. For me the benefits have been huge -- I am able to focus, more energy, no more racing thoughts, no more crying spells, and no more anxiety/panic. Everyone is different, but for me this has worked great!