Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey




One of the more common diagnosis that a physical therapist treats in the clinic is fibromyalgia (FM). Fibromyalgia is the latest name given to a condition that, for the most part, has received mixed acceptance at the clinical level. Part of the reason that FM has been poorly accepted is due to the lack of a clearly defined set of signs and symptoms. In the last few years, new research has delineated the signs and symptoms in a manner that makes FM a more understandable condition.

The Merck Manual defines FM as a group of non-articular rheumatic disorders characterized by pain, tenderness, and stiffness of muscles in areas of tendon insertion and adjacent soft-tissue structures. FM may be acquired from unknown causes or as a result of a traumatic event or surgery. The main course of treatment for FM is antidepressant medication and physical therapy.

The purpose of this literature review is to help the physical therapy clinician gain an understanding of the diagnosis, treatment, and educational needs of the patient with FM. This topic has suffered from a lack of understanding in the past; it is my hope that this review will help clear up some of the misunderstanding that has plagued FM.