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Fibromyalgia Glossary




Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) a combination of strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body. See here.
ME(/CFS) see Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, here.
Mechanical Pain A name given to any type of back pain caused by abnormal stress & strain put on the muscles which support the vertebral column.
Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) Persistent physical complaints (e.g. pain, dizziness) that don't seem to belong to a medical condition. See here.
Migraine Throbbing pain on one side of the head, often with feeling or being sick, and increased light or sound sensitivity. See here.
Milnacipram Brand name 'Savella', an antidepressant SNRI used for FM.
Mitochondria Responsible for energy production in cells, located in the cytoplasm outside the nucleus of a cell (singular: ‘a mitochondrion’).
MMJ Medical or medicinal Marijuana, see Cannabis above.
MPS see Myofascial Pain Syndrome below.
MRI see Magnetic Resonance Imaging above.
Multidisciplinary Treatment Treatment of pain by practitioners of various disciplines, e.g. doctors, physiotherapists & psychologists. See here.
Multimodal Treatment Treatment of pain with different mechanisms of action by practitioners of the same discipline, e.g. doctors. See here.
Muscle Primary tissue of the body with the function of movement, via contraction, and of producing body heat.
Musculoskeletal Pertaining to the ligaments, muscles, tendons, joints & bones with the associated tissues that move & maintain the body form.  (Muscles & the skeleton)
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) Alternate name for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS, often named together as ME/CFS or CFS/ME. See there above and here.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) Pain affecting muscles and connective tissue which is more localised than fibromyalgia.  It is associated with trigger points. See here.
Neuralgia Nerve pain, not only short-term.
Neuritis Nerve inflammation.
Neuromuscular Involving both nerves and muscles.
Neurontin One of the brand names of gabapentin. Related (earlier) to gabapentin (‘Lyrica’ and others). See here.
Neuropathic pain, neuropathy Nervous system pain caused by lesion (abnormality, trauma) or disease of the nerves as opposed to the normal nociceptive form without nerve damage. See here. Neuropathy: Nerve function disturbance or pathological change, e.g. neuritis (if inflamed). Peripheral neuropathy: see here. See nociceptors/nociception and nociplastic pain below.
Neurotransmitters Chemical substances released from the nerve endings of a neuron to transmit impulses to other neurons.
NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartic acid Brain receptor, activated by the amino acid glutamate.
Nociceptors = nociceptive neurons; nociception Peripheral receptors for pain, sensory neurons (nerve cells) sensitive to painful mechanical stimuli, extreme heat or cold, and chemical (“nociceptive”) stimuli, which send possible threat signals to the spinal cord and brain. This process of nociception is the normal perception of pain through threat or damage, as opposed to neuropathic pain due to nerve damage and nociplastic pain with neither tissue nor nerve damage. See here. See neuropathic pain above, nociplastic below.
Nociplastic pain see Central Sensitisation (Syndrome) (CSS). Newly defined 3rd pain category applying to fibromyalgia, aside from nociceptive and neuropathic pain, see also neuropathic pain & nociceptors/nociception above.
 Non-articular Affecting the muscles, connective tissues or soft tissues rather than joints.
Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) Sleep stages 1-3, collectively. See here.
Non-restorative sleep (NRS) Not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep. The most common form of insomnia in fibromyalgia.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Medication to improve pain, inflammation and high temperature, e.g. Diclofenac, Ibuprofen. See here.
Norepinephrine (NE), = Noradrenaline (NA) Neurotransmitter & hormone released naturally by nerve cells, producing many effects throughout the body in a 'fight or flight' reaction to stressful situations. See here.
Nortriptyline Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) that acts on the nerve brain cells, like amitriptyline. See here, overview here.
NREM see non-rapid eye movement above.
NSAID see non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug above.
Off-label (US) Prescription/non-prescription drugs used in non-FDA-approved way.
Opiates A drug (such as morphine or codeine) containing or derived from opium and tending to induce sleep and alleviate pain by binding to opioid receptors.
Opioids A synthetic drug possessing narcotic properties similar to opiates but not derived from opium. See here.
OTC Over the counter: non-prescription medicines.
Pain Threshold The intensity of a stimulus it takes to cause you pain. See here. Often lowered in fibromyalgia.
Pain Tolerance How much pain you can handle before breaking down mentally or physically. It tends to increase the more you deal with pain. See here.
Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS, BPS) Condition with pelvic pain and problems peeing, with Interstitial cystitis (IC) as inflammatory form. See here.
Palpitations Heartbeats that are suddenly more noticeable. See here.
Paraparesis vs. paraplegia Weakness vs. paralysis affecting the lower limbs. See here.
Parasympathetic Those nerves of the autonomic nervous system that are responsible for "rest and digest" or "feed and breed" activities (as opposed to 'sympathetic', responsible, for "flight or fight").
Paresthesia/Paraesthesia Abnormal sensation, such as numbness, prickling and tingling. See here.
Pathogenesis The origin and development of a disease.
Pathological Relating to or caused by disease.
Pathophysiological Pertaining to bodily function changes that cause an illness or the bodily function changes that the illness causes.
PBS See Painful Bladder Syndrome, also BPS. Includes IC.
Peripheral Means areas away from the centre of the body or a body part. Eg: hands are peripheral to the shoulder.
Physical therapist / physiotherapist / physical therapy / physiotherapy (PT) Person / treatment that helps restore movement and function, involving the patient’s self-care. See here.
Plantar fasciitis Pain around your heel and arch. See here. Also foot pain.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Anxiety disorder caused by very distressing events. See here.
Pregabalin Anti-seizure drug often used to treat chronic pain. Brand name ‘Lyrica’ & others. First prescribed drug approved by the FDA for fibromyalgia (2007). Related to gabapentin (‘Neurontin’ & others). See here.
Prevalence A statistical measure of people in the population having a disease at a point or period in time.
Prognosis 1. A prediction or expected outcome of a disease. 2. A patient's chance of recovery.
Psychology Science of the mind and mental processes.  The emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual, group, or activity.
Psychosocial 1. Involving both psychological & social aspects. 2. Relating social conditions to mental health.
PT see Physical therapist / physiotherapist / physical therapy / physiotherapy.
PTSD see Posttraumatic stress disorder above.
RA see Rheumatoid Arthritis below.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Stage of sleep characterised by dreams.
Raynaud's (Phenomenon) A disorder resulting in discoloration of fingers and/or toes when a person is exposed to changes in temperature (hot or cold) or emotional stress. See here.
REM see Rapid Eye Movement above.
Restless Legs Syndrome Neurological condition characterized by the irresistible urge to move the legs. See here.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Long-term condition causing pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, in flares, sometimes further symptoms. See here.
Rheumatology The branch of medicine concerned with problems with tendons, muscles or joints.
RLS see Restless Legs Syndrome above.
Savella Brand name of Milnacipram (HCl), an antidepressant SNRI, the 3rd and last drug approved for fibromyalgia by the US FDA in 2009.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) Antidepressant. Overview here.
Sensitisation Pain nerve cells react stronger or earlier. See here. (Central sensitisation: in the central nervous system as opposed to peripheral).
Sensory Relating to sensation, eg: pain, temperature or touch.
Serotonin A neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and metabolism.
SFN see Small Fibre Neuropathy below.
Sjogren('s) (Syndrome) (SJS, SS) Sjögren's syndrome can cause various symptoms, the most common being dry eyes and dry mouth. In severe cases the lungs, kidneys, nervous system and lymph glands can be affected.  See here.
Small Fibre Neuropathy Nerve disorder marked by severe pain attacks. There is overlap with fibro patients, but correlation and actual interaction is still to be determined.
Spasm or cramp: A sudden involuntary contraction of a muscle, causing the muscle to clench tight, shorten and squeeze causing pain. Often used to describe less painful twitches than a cramp. See here for leg cramps.
SSRI see Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
Substance P A neurotransmitter involved in inflammation and the transmission of pain via nerve impulses.
Symptomatology Combined symptoms of a particular disease.
Syndrome A collection of signs and symptoms that occur together constituting the picture of a particular disease, e.g. CFS, CSS, HMS/HS/JHS/HSD, IBS, MPS, RLS, SJS. Whether FM is a syndrome or not is a matter of increasing debate about its classification, see here.
Systemic Affecting the body as a whole or affecting a particular body system.
TCA see Tricyclic antidepressant below.
Temporomandibular Joint (Disorder) (TMJ / TMD): The jaw joint, and thus also a disorder consisting of pain, muscle tenderness and/or clicking in the joint, and limitation or alteration of the jaw movement. (A type of temporomandibular disorder, TMD.) See here.
Tender Points 18 small areas of the body that are often painful to touch in fibromyalgia. These were initially used as a research classification tool for identifying commonalities in cohorts. However, it was then used as a diagnostic tool as it was the best option available at the time.
TENS unit (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) Device / machine with sticky pads containing electrodes that use a mild electrical current to relieve pain. See here.
Tinnitus A noise in the ear or head, described as buzzing, hissing, humming, ringing or whistling, which is generated inside the body rather than coming from outside. See here.
TMJ (TMD) see Temperomandibular Joint (Disorder) above (& jaw joint pain).
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) Medicine that acts on the nerve brain cells, e.g. amitriptyline, nortriptyline. See here.
Trigeminal neuralgia Form of sudden, severe facial pain for up to 2 minutes. See here.
Trigger Points Tight bands of muscle tissue that are painful to the touch. When pressure is applied to these points, they cause radiation of pain throughout the body. See Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) and here.
Vertigo Feeling everything is spinning, affecting balance, more than dizziness.  See here.
Virus A micro-organism smaller than a bacterium, which cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and to replicate itself.
Vitamin B12 (and B9) (B9 = folate) Deficiency of these can cause typical fibromyalgia symptoms. See here.
Vulvodynia A term used to describe pain in the vulva, often severe, of unknown cause.
WHO World Health Organisation - the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. See here.
Xanax A rand name of Alprazolam, a benzodiazepine medication for insomnia.
Yoga Flexibility, strength & breathing exercises for physical and mental health adapted from origins 5.000 years ago in India. See here.


Zopiclone Nonbenzodiazepine sleep medication, with brand name ‘Imovane’ and others. See here.


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