Fibromyalgia (FM) is a neurosensory disorder that causes chronic fatigue, stiffness, tenderness, and pain in the muscles, joints, and tendons. This chronic pain disorder usually occurs between the ages of 25 and 60 years of age and is most common in women (a small percentage of men also suffer from it. Fibromyalgia can be debilitating, leading to depression, missed days at work and school, and, in the worst case, homebound. Symptoms of FM often arise after a stressful event, such as surgery, infection, and psychological or physical trauma. New developments in the treatment of fibromyalgia along with lifestyle changes can significantly improve how sufferers feel. This article will explain the disorder in detail and will give you helpful tips on living with and managing the disorder.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are different for each person. The primary symptom that urges people to visit their doctor is generalized pain and weakness that does not go away and extreme fatigue.
Pain. Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia experience chronic and widespread pain in one or many areas of the muscles, tendons, and joints. People with FM may experience what is referred to as “pressure” or tender places on joints and in specific places or points on their bodies. Doctors also look at pain in one or more pressure points that are significant to FM sufferers to diagnose fibromyalgia.
Fatigue and sleep disturbance. FMS causes chronic and severe fatigue that can be disabling and leave you feeling like you cannot get out of bed or perform usual tasks. Each person with FM will have a different experience with fatigue. However, a common description of fatigue is a generalized heaviness in the body and a feeling of tiredness not relieved by rest or sleep. Another symptom that contributes to this extreme fatigue is a lack of restful sleep. FM patients often report restless sleeping patterns with frequent nighttime awakenings and difficulty in falling asleep.
Other related symptoms. Fibromyalgia symptoms tend to be worse in the late evening or first thing in the morning. You may also feel worse in extreme temperatures (very hot or very cold). Excessive activity may drain you of your energy stores and it will take longer to rest and recover (often days). You may also feel worse around the time of your period or during times of stress. You may notice increased symptoms with certain fragrances, chemical household cleaners, lights and noises, medications, and some foods. Symptoms tend to come in “flares” where they are very severe for a while, then may lessen or even disappear completely for months to years. These symptoms are:
- Joint and muscle stiffness
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Memory issues (brain fog, trouble with word recall)
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Migraine headaches
- Jaw pain
- Irritated bladder
- Inability to tolerate exercise
- Feeling swollen or puffy