We really don’t know what causes fibromyalgia, but it doesn’t appear to be passed down directly from parent to child.
There could be a genetic predisposition for the disorder, but that’s not the same as inheriting a specific defective gene. Instead, it may be that some people have a tendency to develop fibromyalgia when certain environmental factors trigger it. A virus may be the culprit.
One school of thought holds that fibromyalgia may be caused by a disruption in the sleep cycle known as “deep sleep.” Scientists are exploring other theories about causes and triggers, including viral or bacterial infections, injuries or trauma, autoimmune diseases and others.
More research is needed because there isn’t a cure. It’s now estimated that 3 million to 6 million Americans suffer from this debilitating syndrome. The vast majority are women in their reproductive years, but fibromyalgia has been known to strike any gender at any age.
A number of symptoms are associated with fibromyalgia, but the primary symptom is pain — chronic, widespread pain in the muscles and joints. People with fibromyalgia usually have points on their bodies that are tender to the touch and seem to trigger the pain. In addition, they tend to experience fatigue and sleep disturbances that make it hard for them to get restful, restorative sleep. Numerous other symptoms may occur, including mental symptoms such as memory problems, depression or anxiety.