Fibromyalgia symptoms are quite complex and can be so variable. The common symptoms include widespread muscle pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points. These symptoms may intensify depending on stress or physical activity, changes in the weather, or even the time of day. Below are the common symptoms of fibromyalgia:
Chronic widespread pain is a prominent feature of fibromyalgia. The patient may complain of 'hurting all over'. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on all four limbs as well as the upper or lower back. The pain usually comes from the soft tissues, muscles and joints.
Tender points are specific sites on the body that are exceptionally sensitive to the touch in people with fibromyalgia. These localized areas of tenderness are often not deep areas of pain, instead, they are superficial areas seemingly under the skin's surface such as over the elbow or shoulder. The cause of tender points is not yet known. Although it may seem that these areas might be inflamed, researchers haven't found exact signs of inflammation when examining the tissue.There are 9 paired tender points located in different areas of the body:
- Arms (elbows)
- Lower back
- Rib cage
Stiffnessusually occur with pain. This is a common complaint among fibromyalgia patients. Stiffness is usually worse in the morning, but may also be experienced in other times. Its onset may follow a period of physical inactivity.
Fatigue can be one of the most debilitating symptoms for people with fibromyalgia. They may feel as though they are so drained of energy that every task is an effort. Fatigue also significantly affects the psychological well being of those suffering from fibromyalgia. It heightens stress and emotions, which in turn increases the amount of physical discomfort.
Sleep disorders. Many fibromyalgia sufferers complain of sleep disturbances. Even if they seem to have adequate sleep, they usually awaken feeling tired. Experts believe that fibromyalgia patients fail to reach the deep restorative stage of sleep, leaving them feeling tired during the day.
Headaches.Fibromyalgia patients are more vulnerable to headaches than those who do not have the disease. It's been estimated that about 50% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia suffer from recurrent migraine or tension headaches. Certain food items, odors, and menstrual period, weather and emotional stress are known to trigger headaches. Referred pain from myofascial trigger points are also suspected to be responsible for tension-type headache and migraines.
Paresthesia. Numbness and tingling are common neurological symptoms that accompany fibromyalgia. These are experienced by almost a third of fibromyalgia patients at some point. Numbness and tingling are commonly felt on the hands and feet, the cause of these symptoms is still unknown. They tend to come and go in different parts of the body and they do not follow any anatomic or nerve pattern.
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Oelke, J. Natural Choices for Fibromyalgia: Discover Your Personal Method for Pain Relief. 2003. Natural Choices, Inc.
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