Fibromyalgia Risk Factors

Fibromyalgia is a condition that commonly causes discomfort in various areas of the body. Along with general discomfort, sufferers of fibromyalgia have “tender points” all around their bodies. A tender point is a certain area on the body, whether it be on the shoulders, hips, legs, back, arms, or neck, where it is sensitive to touch. It is often painful for the sufferer when pressure is placed on a tender point.

Who is Affected by Fibromyalgia?

It is currently estimated that up to 5 million people in the US over the of 18 currently suffer from fibromyalgia. Anywhere from 8-9 people in 10 sufferers are women. This doesn’t eliminate the fact that men and even children or teens can develop the condition. Fibromyalgia is typically diagnosed in middle-aged people.

For some people, fibromyalgia exclusively occurs without the presence of other conditions. However, those with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other arthritis types are suspected to be at a high risk for developing fibromyalgia. Those who have immediate relatives with fibromyalgia are also more vulnerable to the condition.

Risk Factors

According to medical research, there are certain factors that have been known to connect in some way to fibromyalgia. Keep in mind that a risk factor does not always indicate the presence of fibromyalgia, but it should raise cause for concern. These are known risk factors for the disease.

  • Gender. The NIAMS (or the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) reports that women are simply much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men. It is suspected that female hormones are the ultimate linking factor.
  • Age. The NIAMS also reports that those who are middle-aged are at the highest risk for being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In fact, anyone between the ages of 20 and 50 should stay cautious.
  • Family genetics. Take a moment to think of anyone in your family who might have fibromyalgia. If the condition runs in your immediate family, you are at a higher risk for developing it yourself.
  • Sleep disorders. Due to lack of research and the unknown, healthcare professionals still aren’t sure if sleep disorders can cause fibromyalgia, or if they are symptoms of it. At any rate, disorders such as RLS (restless leg syndrome) and sleep apnea have been linked to fibromyalgia.
  • Rheumatic conditions. When a person has a rheumatic condition, their bones, joints, and muscles are affected. They are also predisposed to possibly developing fibromyalgia. Talk to your doctor if you have any rheumatic conditions such as osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.

Your doctor will be able to provide you with a wealth of information on risk factors and even a diagnosis. If you suspect that you might be suffering from fibromyalgia, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.