Five Notable Facts About Fibromyalgia

New York-based Tonix Pharmaceuticals working toward key to better treatment.

For about five million Americans, 90 percent of them women, fibromyalgia syndrome (FM) represents a double nightmare. The first part of the nightmare is enduring the broad range of symptoms that can include low back pain, recurrent headaches, arthritis, muscle spasm, tingling, balance problems and many others. The second part of the nightmare is the challenge of getting a proper diagnosis: Women may be told by their doctors that their FM symptoms are caused by depression, or by other conditions that happen to share the same symptoms.

Here are five things about FM that you might not know:

1. FM has been around for centuries. Although the term "fibromyalgia" wasn't coined until 1976, FM has been studied since the 1800s. Among the most famous historical figures with FM-like symptoms was Florence Nightingale, who was virtually bedridden for the latter years of her life with pain and fatigue until her death in 1910.

2. Regular exercise might produce some relief. It seems like a contradiction, but some research suggests that hitting the gym and getting regular exercise may produce relief from FM pain. It's okay to exercise through your "normal" pain levels, but if exercise causes the pain to worsen significantly, back off.

3. Eating right is a step in the right direction. No diet, no matter how well planned, will "cure" fibromyalgia. But a diet rich in antioxidants (e.g., full of fruits and vegetables) can help individuals with this condition maximize their health by minimizing the level of oxidative stress that can occur in the body's tissues.

4. The pain of FM originates in the brain. Although in a prior era FM patients came under the care of rheumatologists, this view has since evolved. Thought leaders now believe that FM is a disorder of the central nervous system.

5. Sleep quality plays a major role in the severity of FM symptoms. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, many FM patients report a lack of restful sleep. New York-based Tonix Pharmaceuticals is reformulating an existing muscle relaxant called cyclobenzaprine-which exerts its effects via receptors in the brain-into a low-dose sleep aid to be taken in tablet form at bedtime, and is betting that it will offer the key to better treatment. Tonix will be testing its drug through 2013.

For more information, please visit www.tonixpharma.com.

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