Fibromyalgia a Threat to Some College Students

Fibromyalgia affects approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population, or 5 million people. On most college campuses, Fibromyalgia might affect about 1 percent of the population because it is comprised of a younger demographic, according to Allyson Davis, spokeswoman for the Arthritis Foundation, Utah/Idaho chapter.

“It is more commonly found in women than men and generally affects people between the ages of 20 and 50,” Davis said. “It is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40.”

Fibromyalgia is classified as a syndrome, not a disease, because it’s harder to diagnose. Its most prominent symptom is varying degrees of widespread muscle pain, which often includes stiffness and tenderness around joints, tendons and ligaments.

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, bladder spasms and sometimes loss of memory.

Since these symptoms are so similar to those of other medical disorders, many people endure complicated and repeated evaluations before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based upon the presence of widespread pain in combination with tenderness in specific locations (tender points), as well as a person’s medical history.

No laboratory test or X-ray can diagnose fibromyalgia, but those tests are helpful when ruling out other diseases.

“Fortunately, fibromyalgia is not life-threatening and does not cause deformity,” Davis said. “However, taking an active role in managing fibromyalgia is essential. Patients should exercise regularly, educate themselves and learn techniques to reduce pain and stress.”

The Arthritis Foundation, offers a free brochure on fibromyalgia. It explains the symptoms, diagnosis and general treatment of symptoms. For more information, call the Arthritis Foundation Utah/Idaho Chapter at 801-536-0990 or 1-800-444-4993 or access its Web site:

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