Friday, December 30, 2011

In a word – What we know about terms and fibromyalgia

Historical terms for what we know today as fibromyalgia:

muscular rheumatism
tension myalgia/ tension rheumatism
psychogenic rheumatism
(Cooper and Miller, 2010)


Fibromyositis is still alive and we now know it is not interchangeable with FM. It is an inflammatory condition of muscle associated with overgrowth of the connective tissue.

Muscular rheumatism

Muscular rheumatism is today used to describe what we know as polymyalgia rheumatica.
Sneak Peek, Polymyalgia Rheumatica©…
Because muscle pain and stiffness are associated with PMR, it could be confused with FM, CFID, or CMP. However, it is a different condition all together. Polymyalgia rheumatica is inflammatory in nature. Because muscle pain and stiffness are associated with PMR, it could be
confused with FM, CFID, or CMP. However, it is a different condition all together….
(Cooper and Miller, 2010, pg 104)
Tension myalgia

Tension myalgia implies muscle pain from tense muscles, Mayo Clinic says, “Tension myalgia is a diagnosis that has been in use at the Mayo Clinic for more than 40 years. The term describes a common muscle pain disorder that is conceptually similar to other muscle pain disorders such as fibrositis, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain syndrome. This article outlines the history of these disorders and proposes "tension myalgia" as a term that unifies these separate diagnoses under one conceptual framework. Because the diagnostic criteria for tension myalgia have been vague, the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic has developed specific criteria for generalized, regional, and localized forms of this disorder. The recommended treatment approach includes reassurance, elimination of contributing factors, physical therapy to restore normal neuromuscular function, conditioning, and medications.” (Thompson, 1990)

It is my opinion that tension myalgia may be related to what we know today as myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) referred to in our book as chronic myofascial pain (CMP). MPS/CMP is a prevalent peripheral pain generator to the centralization of pain found in FM.

Psychogenic rheumatism

Psychogenic rheumatism is an old term that implies muscle pain is a psychiatric disease. Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are still those that would like to put us in this category.


Neurasthenia is an old term that denoted what they thought was a psychological disorder manifested by chronic fatigue and weakness, loss of memory, and widespread pain, thought to be from an exhausted nervous system. This definition of an old term certainly does relate to what some of us still experience from our healthcare providers today. I would like to think our practitioners know that the breakdown in the central nervous system in FM is a biological problem that is caused by the presence peripheral pain generators called myofasical trigger points. Though they knew nothing of MPS/CMP in those days (long before the work of Travell and Simons), somehow I feel they would have embraced modern studies better than they are received in our healthcare delivery system today.


Fibrositis is still used as a synonym for fibromyalgia by some who haven’t kept up with the research. Even though “itis” is the suffix for inflammation and we now know that fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disorder. It is a syndrome that affects the central nervous system, perpetuated by peripheral nerve to muscle deregulation.

(Signature line appended, March 2018)

In healing,
Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!


Cooper C and Miller J, Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection. Vermont: Healing Arts, 2010

Thomson, TM, Tension myalgia as a diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic and its relationship to fibrositis, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain syndrome. Mayo Clin Proc. 1990 Sep;65(9):1237-48.

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