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This is an old term for a condition which is similar to the modern term, fibromyalgia. It was coined by Sir William Gowers 1904 to describe the muscular pains that presented commonly in the clinics of his day. ( The term is a misleading misnomer. Its use should be discouraged because the suffix, “itis” conveys the notion that inflammation is the cause. This theory has been refuted. Unfortunately, the new word, “fibromyalgia” is only slightly better. It too is misleading, because it leaves patients and doctors with the impression that the problem is one of muscle pain and some unspecified fibrous problem. However, fibrous tissue problems are not central our causative. The disorder is now known to be primarily due to malfunctions in the central nervous system. Pain is the main symptom but often sleep disorders and the resulting exhaustion and fatigue are equally distressing to the patient as their pain. Psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety as well as memory problems likely from sleep deprivation are also prominent in many cases.

In other words, the term “fibromyalgia” is too narrow to convey the full breadth of the syndrome, but for historical reasons and for better or for worse; we are all probably stuck with this term. To change it now would likely just create undo confusion.