Fibromyalgia is generally defined as a chronic pain condition which can be potentially debilitating and have an impact on quality of life. Characterised by widespread pain, the condition is accompanied by a number of additional vague signs and symptoms which occur with varying degrees of severity. Many of these are common to several other diseases and patients presenting with an array of complaints makes assessment by any clinician extremely difficult and challenging. Practice nurses and nurse prescribers may see patients asking for advice and this article therefore hopes to give some insight into this complex disease with the aim of giving nurses and nurse prescribers more knowledge and confidence when assessing their patients.
An estimated 10 million people in the United States are reported to suffer from the condition and an additional 3-6 % of inhabitants of other countries around the world are also thought to be affected.1 Although the condition can occur at any age, those between the ages of 20-50 are most likely to experience symptoms with women ten times more likely to be affected than men.2