For many suffering from fibromyalgia, the symptoms can go undiagnosed for years before finally being properly attributed to this chronic condition. Since fibromyalgia is still a relatively unknown and misunderstood condition – many who suffer from it may not even realize their condition has a name.
To help increase awareness about fibromyalgia and its symptoms, we’ve put together a list of 10 signs that you may be suffering it. Of course, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and to explore treatment options best suited to your situation.
Constant & Widespread Pain
If you have muscle pain, muscle spasms, tightness or aches that have lasted more than three months – it could be a sign that you have fibromyalgia. In addition to being constant, the pain is often widespread throughout the body. It often affects both sides of the body, as well as both above and below the waist.
Chronic Fatigue / Exhaustion
Besides the pain, fatigue is one of the staple symptoms of fibromyalgia. Many with fibromyalgia report feeling fatigued on a consistent basis – even after a full night’s rest. The body’s energy reserves are also noticeably low and even simple tasks such as taking a shower can leave one exhausted.
Sleep usually does not come easy for those afflicted with the condition. Sleeping disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are common among those suffering from fibromyalgia. A heightened sense of anxiety – combined with the pain and discomfort – can make falling asleep difficult. Even if you do fall asleep you may awaken frequently throughout the night – leaving your body without the rest & recuperation it requires.
Fibro Fog (Cognitive Difficulties)
Yet another symptom that plagues many fibromyalgia patients is fibro fog – or difficulties with memory and concentration. Many describe it as a fog-like state within the mind. Symptoms can include memory loss, inability to concentrate, difficulty speaking, inability to perform simple tasks and more. This condition is typically a net result of the constant stress from the pain and lack of sleep mentioned above.
Feelings of Anxiety & Depression
Given the amount of pain, stress and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia – it is not surprising that many suffering from the condition also report increased levels of anxiety and feelings of depression. For those experiencing these symptoms, speaking with your doctor or a licensed counselor is absolutely essential.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
According to WebMD, as many as 70% of fibromyalgia patients experience symptoms matching the criteria for irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. These symptoms usually include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas and alternating episodes of both constipation and diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms in combination with the aforementioned signs – you may suffer from both fibromyalgia and IBS.
Tension Headaches & Migraines
Many afflicted with fibromyalgia have also reported suffering from tension headaches and migraines. Tension headaches are described as feeling like a tight band around the head or a heavy weight pushing down on the top of the head. They often inflict pain in the neck and shoulder muscles as well. Migraines are more severe in nature and usually render the sufferer unable to function until it subsides. Tension headaches and migraines can last from hours to days and often reoccur with some frequency.
Increased Sensitivity to Temperature/Weather
Yet another sign that you may suffer from fibromyalgia is if you have an increased sensitivity to temperature/weather. Specifically, many fibromyalgia patients report a flare up of their symptoms in extreme heat or cold. For most, winter seems to be the biggest culprit in aggravating their pain, though for some, extreme heat can wreak equal havoc.
Low Tolerance for Exercise
For a large number of fibromyalgia patients, exercise – though beneficial in reducing their symptoms over the long term – is simply not an option because of the pain. The body’s tolerance for exercise is significantly reduced and the muscle’s ability to recover is also delayed – resulting in increased muscle pain and soreness. Though proper nutrition and supplementation can help to improve the body’s tolerance level, it is still important to go at slow pace if you suffer from intense levels of chronic pain.
Numbness or Tingling
For some, fibromyalgia can cause numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs or feet. In some cases, the underlying cause of these symptoms may be something else – such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, vitamin b12 deficiency, neuropathy, etc. Patients experiencing numbness or tingling will typically undergo tests to rule out other possible causes.
There are a number of other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, of course, but these are the ten most likely to be associated with the condition. If you have or are experiencing any of the symptoms above – the most important step you can take is to discuss your symptoms and concerns with your doctor to start you on the path to a treatment plan.