What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is commonly referred to as head-to-toe body pain which also includes aches in muscles and joints. This condition is also known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Fibromyalgia is said to be a distressing disease that affects both, physical as well as mental health. Many patients can face a rapid onset of fatigue just after waking up in the morning. This weariness can make even the slightest body movement effort-taking.
Jotted down below are 10 warning signs of fibromyalgia. They are written with a hope to provide insight and inspiration to seek medical guidance.
Complete Body Pain
The majority of individuals who are stricken with fibromyalgia complain of proliferating head-to-toe pain. They often describe the pain as sharp, deep, stabbing, and throbbing. Unlike common aches, this spreads across muscles, ligaments, and tendons as well. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is usually consistent. Patients also complain that it is unresponsive to typical OTC medications.
No single cause has been identified as a trigger to the fibromyalgia pain. For some individuals, it may be a sudden change in weather that elicits the ache, while for others it may be emotionally stressful situations. It is not necessary that there is only one trigger. There may be many.
Stiff Muscles and Joints
While many people experience muscle and joint stiffness after strenuous physical activity, those dealing with fibromyalgia experience it for no obvious reason. This complication is common among as many as 75 percent fibromyalgia patients. The stiffness particularly happens during the morning hours. It feels similar to the rigidity that develops in those individuals who are diagnosed with inflammatory or rheumatoid arthritis.
For some patients, the stiffness may fade away in 10-15 minutes. In others, it may last the majority of the day.
Persistent Fatigue and Exhaustion
Doctors and researchers believe that this exhaustion has two quite obvious roots. First one is the fibromyalgia syndrome itself. The complications of this condition have great potential to drain a person’s mental and physical energy, with or without overexertion. In short, the weariness is a core symptom of fibromyalgia that can happen for no reason at all.
Another root is disturbed sleep. The pain and muscle spasms can make a person lose sleep, which can cause or exacerbate fatigue over time. This can eventually take a toll on immunity and make energy levels plummet.
Brain fog is a problem that many fibromyalgia patients have reported. Also known as “Fibro Fog”, it is a cognitive dysfunction. It is associated with memory deficits and confusion. Those dealing with brain fog can face difficulty finding the right words, remembering things, keeping alert, or concentrating.
When a study was conducted with 60 individuals – 30 with fibromyalgia and 30 without it – researchers observed various memory and attention impairments in fibromyalgia inflicted. No one clearly understands the reason(s) behind the change in brain function with fibromyalgia.
Depleting Mental Health
Living with fibromyalgia can take a heavy toll on mental health. With no actual fibromyalgia treatment available, the patients are advised to just “live with it”. This effectively causes hopelessness. In 2011, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders indicated that 83.3 percent of fibromyalgia patients are suffer with depression.
It is observed that an even larger percentage of fibromyalgia patients have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. A lack of concrete explanation behind pains, triggers, and brain dysfunctions may be the reason. For these individuals, it is common to be anxious before an interview or boarding a flight.
People with fibromyalgia are often extremely sensitive to touch, weather, noise, and even light. Even a stubbed toe can cause excruciating pain that lasts for days. Trivial change in temperature or humidity is able to trigger throbbing full-body pains. Odors like fresh paint, diesel, or cigarette smoke can cause extreme nausea for them. Many fibromyalgia patients have been known to react to chemical-based cleaning products.
Extreme level of mysophobia can make even normal volume sound as extremely loud. Patients have reacted similarly to average lighting because to them it seemed blindingly bright.
Due to the sensory abnormalities that are mentioned above, fibromyalgia patients can experience persistent headaches or migraines. These are severe pains that sometimes seem to extend downwards to the neck, shoulders, back, and further other parts of the body. Although hypersensitivity towards light, noise, touch, or smell can spark off this pain, it may not go away just by moving into a trigger-free environment.
In some cases, the headache can last for days and cause sleep disturbances. Thus, aggravating fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Abnormal Bowel Movement
According to WebMD, approximately two out of three fibromyalgia patients develop a condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It refers to a long-term troublesome symptom that makes it difficult to have usual bowel movements. They may be too runny (diarrhea) or too tough to pass (constipation). Fibromyalgia IBS can also cause other problems such as bloating, gas, cramping, and nausea.
From a general standpoint, the root cause of constipation can be the pain caused by fibromyalgia and/or muscle stiffness. However, the root cause of diarrhea is still unknown.
Paresthesia or Tingling Sensation
Those with fibromyalgia condition can feel tingly and numb sensations in fingers and feet. These odd sensations are called paresthesia and can also include itching or skin crawling. Experienced commonly when a person leaves the legs crossed for too long, with fibromyalgia, they can happen randomly. They can last for a few minutes or persist for several weeks.
Fibromyalgia Symptom in Women
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, fibromyalgia can affect a women’s health in other ways as well. It can cause heavier flow during menstruation and some women may even experience pain during those days. This condition is called dysmenorrhea.
Although, many women with fibromyalgia do not face any problems during pregnancy, for some the symptoms can worsen. Fibromyalgia can heighten fatigue and mood swings.
Women are also more likely to have tender points or pain points. These can cause a splurge of pain when triggered.
Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should immediately see a doctor.