“Fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a chronic condition that characteristically causes pain all over the body, including muscle and joint pain, and fatigue as well as other symptoms. Fibromyalgia can lead to depression and social isolation.” – WebMD
Fibromyalgia is a particularly distressing condition that can affect someone both mentally and physically. Upon awakening, someone with fibromyalgia commonly experiences a rapid onset of fatigue when attempting to move their body.
The severe mental and physical complications of fibromyalgia can make one’s daily routine a difficult path to navigate. Before delving into the signs of fibromyalgia, here are some relevant facts about the condition:
– Women aged 25 to 60 comprise the majority of fibromyalgia patients.
– Women are 10 times more likely to develop the condition.
– Diagnosing fibromyalgia requires a comprehensive physical examination, as a physician must rule out any other similar conditions.
– A blood test, specifically a full blood count (FBC) and thyroid exam, is routinely undertaken to diagnose the condition.
– Upon a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, patients are often referred to a rheumatologist for proper treatment.
We sincerely hope that this article is insightful, and inspires those that may be stricken with fibromyalgia to seek medical guidance.
Here are ten potential signs of fibromyalgia to never ignore:
1. Head-to-toe pain
The majority of those who visit their doctor – and ultimately diagnosed with fibromyalgia – complain of proliferating body pain. According to WebMD, approximately 97 percent of those with fibromyalgia experience pain across the body.
Fibromyalgia pain is often described as “deep, sharp, throbbing or aching,” and can affect ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is often consistent and unresponsive to typical over the counter (OTC) pain medications.
2. Persistent fatigue, or exhaustion
Fatigue is the second most common complaint of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The primary difference between someone experiencing “tiredness” and extreme fatigue (i.e., exhaustion) is the duration of associated symptoms.
Those with fibromyalgia frequently associate their sense of fatigue as being stricken with the flu. They are simply unable to perform at a normal level. This feeling of exhaustion applies to simple tasks, exercise, and even waking up.
3. Body stiffness
More than 75 percent of those with the condition experience bodily stiffness, particularly during morning hours. This physical sense of rigidity is similar to those diagnosed with arthritis, especially inflammatory or rheumatoid arthritis.
In some cases, these symptoms fade within 10 to 15 minutes; in others, they’ll last the majority of the day, if not all waking hours.
4. Poor quality sleep
Due to their physical and mental states, those with fibromyalgia find it difficult to get quality sleep. One reason for this is the erratic brain activity experienced in fibromyalgia patients during rest. This uneasiness in falling asleep is followed by interruptions caused by irregular brain activity.
5. “Trigger points” that evoke pain or tenderness
Similar to arthritis patients, those with fibromyalgia usually have “trigger points,” or areas of the body that produce painful sensations in disproportionate frequency.
Sadly, when pressure is applied, these “trigger points” are extremely painful. Fortunately, if and when fibromyalgia is diagnosed, a specialist can provide valuable insights into managing them. Readily available anti-inflammatory OTC’s, such as Aleve and Naprosyn, can alleviate some of this pain.
6. Abnormal digestion
Constipation, diarrhea and bloating are all potential symptoms of fibromyalgia. According to WebMD, approximately 40 to 70 percent of patients experience symptoms similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are reported at a similar rate.
7. Numbness, swelling or tingling
About half of those with fibromyalgia experience a “pins and needles” sensation in their arms, feet, hands and legs – a condition known as paraesthesia. For some, these sensations may last no longer a few minutes; for others, they can be quite consistent.
Similar to many fibromyalgia-related symptoms, paresthesia is often barely noticeable. It is important, however, for those experiencing frequent numbness, swelling or tingling in the arms, feet, hands or legs to seek medical advice.
8. Spasms of the fingers and toes
Said to be present in 25 to 50 percent of fibromyalgia patients are arterial spasms of the hands or toes. This symptom occurs as a result of exposure to either cold or stress. Importantly, affected areas will often take on a bluish or pale coloration and also accompanied by pain.
Known as Raynaud’s syndrome, or Raynaud’s phenomenon, the aforementioned symptoms often dissipate when heat is applied.
9. Sensitivity to temperature
Because of their bodily state, it is quite difficult for those with fibromyalgia to regulate their body temperature. As you’ve likely noticed by now, some of the above-mentioned symptoms are strikingly similar to arthritis.
It is common for any fluctuations in temperature to be ill-received by those with fibromyalgia. At times, afflicted patients complain that the environment is too cold or hot to their liking – a symptom that makes it difficult for them to be productive or properly rest.
10. ‘Fibro fog’
Similar to ‘brain fog,’ fibromyalgia may manifest into concentration problems. Also, people with the condition may experience short-term memory difficulties. They may also have general feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of mental clarity.
Without proper medical intervention, ‘fibro fog’ can negatively affect one’s daily life; this is particularly evident during work or personal time.
WebMD, LLC. (2016). Fibromyalgia symptoms. Retrieved March 07, 2017, from http://www.webmd.boots.com/pain-management/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms
WebMD, LLC. (2016). Restless Legs Syndrome. Retrieved March 07, 2017 from http://www.webmd.boots.com/sleep-disorders/guide/restless-legs-syndrome-rls
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