27 Real Fibromyalgia Symptoms That Aren’t Just In Your Head

By: Lily James

Fibromyalgia is a generalized chronic pain syndrome that occurs mainly in women 20 to 50 years of age. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases estimates that five million people in the United States suffer from fibromyalgia. Although it is so common, the cause of fibromyalgia is still unclear, and fibromyalgia symptoms can be so varied and complex.

A list of fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed as a syndrome, a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems, not just by a marker. The three fibromyalgia symptoms that most directly point to a diagnosis are:

  • Generalized pain on both sides of the body, above and below the waist
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive difficulties

However, fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain syndrome that affects all aspects of a person’s life. This post will look at all of these fibromyalgia symptoms in more detail, as well as the specific symptoms of fibromyalgia in women. A complete list of fibromyalgia symptoms varies from patient to patient, but could include any of the following 27 fibromyalgia symptoms:

  • Generalized muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sensitivity
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Rebound pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Excessive gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Painful bladder syndrome
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Pins and needles sensations
  • General increased sensitivity to cold and touch
  • I forget
  • Inability to concentrate, or “fibro fog”
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Nervous energy
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional sensitivity
  • Increased response to stress
  • Sleep disorders
  • Joint stiffness
  • Menstrual pain or changes
  • Greater chance of other health conditions

Knowing these symptoms and whether they affect you can help when it comes to a diagnosis. It takes years to diagnose the average person. This is because the symptoms of fibromyalgia overlap with many other disorders. The following video provides a little more information about this pain syndrome.

Pain symptoms

Pain is one of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia and is a necessary component of any diagnosis. But, as EverydayHealth explains:

“Fibromyalgia symptoms can fluctuate in intensity and can get better or worse over time. Factors like stress, changes in the weather, too much or too little exercise, and too much or too little rest can affect the severity of your symptoms. “

That means an activity that caused you pain one day might be fine the next, and vice versa. Still, this is how fibromyalgia pain symptoms can affect your life.

1. Generalized muscle pain

The symptom that fibromyalgia is known by is undoubtedly chronic pain throughout the body. Specifically, pain has to occur on both sides of your body, as well as above and below the waist, to be diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Pain can travel to any other part of your body, and the intensity of the pain can vary. Fibromyalgia also has the tendency to increase and decrease, so pain can vary on any day and even on the same day.

The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association reports that the following could affect pain levels:

  • Cold / humid climate
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Most patients describe pain as stiffness or pain that begins in specific areas. Fibromyalgia tends to start in the neck and shoulder area and spreads to the rest of the body from there. It is also common for pain to appear to be coming from the joints even though inflammation or swelling is not present. Tender points are also common and generally produce a sharp pain when pressure is applied.

To be diagnosed as a chronic disease, this pain must be present for at least three months and must not resolve or recur.

2. Muscle spasms

Muscle spasms can be a painful fibro symptom, or they can simply be irritation when the muscle tightens and loosens on its own. This can interfere with sleep and daily activity.

3. Headaches or migraines

Headaches are a common symptom of fibromyalgia. Some patients even experience extreme migraine pain. The intense pressure or palpitations of these migraines can extend further down the neck, shoulders, and upper back. These headaches are often triggered by environmental factors such as:

  • Bright lights
  • Loud sounds
  • Strong scents

These headaches can last for several days and can be severe enough to disturb sleep.

4. Rebound pain

When fibromyalgia patients are pain free, their first instinct may be to jump in and get things done. They can clean their house, meet friends for lunch, and then go for an afternoon walk with their children. While all of these things are wonderful, the result of this increased activity can be even worse, pain later that night or the next day.

5. Sensitivity

Doctors diagnose fibromyalgia at 18 tender points on the body. These are symmetrical points located both above and below the waist. Fibromyalgia patients may experience increased sensitivity in these areas when a flare is imminent, or they may feel these tender points almost all of the time.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal fibromyalgia

Many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from gastrointestinal problems.

6. Irritable bowel syndrome

Fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome are closely related, as pain and stiffness are common problems in both conditions. It is quite common for someone to have both disorders at the same time. IBS is another chronic pain condition that can lead to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Swelling

7. Nausea

The pain can be severe enough to make a fibromyalgia patient sick to their stomach. This can cause a change in diet that could lead to other symptoms.

8. Constipation

Some of those with IBS experience constipation as their main manifestation of this syndrome.

9. Excess gas

Excess gas can be a symptom of IBS or it can occur as a result of dietary changes due to nausea or other causes.

10. Diarrhea

For those fibromyalgia patients who also experience IBS, if they do not suffer from constipation or excessive gas, they may find that their main fibromyalgia symptom is diarrhea.

11. Painful bladder syndrome 

The Mayo Clinic reports that fibro often coexists with other conditions, such as interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome.

Symptoms of sensory fibromyalgia

One of the strangest effects of fibromyalgia is the distortion of the patient’s sensitivity to pain, cold, touch, or even sensory stimuli such as smell.

12. Increased sensitivity to pain

Those with chronic pain conditions experience changes in their brain that make their body more sensitive to pain over time. This is a common fibromyalgia symptom.

13. Pins and needles

Any nerve involvement can cause a tingling sensation in the hands and feet, which is often called a “tingling” sensation. SpineHealth notes that:

“Approximately 25 {7e42071b14ee2e8f2fc2ef24c20bb0ab305ccdb09066d1e679a9e59b9a43d223} of fibromyalgia patients report ‘poor circulation’ or numbness and tingling that is not in a root pattern and typically involves arms and hands. However, a physical examination reveals normal muscle strength and sensory tests, without inflammatory or arthritic features.

14. Higher overall sensitivity 

In addition to increases in pain sensitivity (which deserves its own approach), many fibromyalgia patients also report increased sensitivity to:

  • Touch
  • smells
  • Loud noises
  • Bright lights
  • Medicines
  • Certain foods

Fibromyalgia patients are so sensitive all over the body that even the slightest touch can cause them to shudder in surprise or pain. Nerve endings are hyperconscious and sensitive to even the slightest stimulation from seams and labels on clothing.

However, due to increased sensitivity to cold, fibromyalgia patients may seek out a sweater on sunnier days.

Cognitive symptoms of fibromyalgia

The fibromyalgia diagnosis tends to focus more on physical symptoms, such as pain and fatigue. This makes sense, as these are the easiest indicators to identify and measure. However, there are a number of cognitive and mental fibromyalgia symptoms that occur from this disorder that can also have a major impact on quality of life.

15. Oblivion

Fibromyalgia patients can forget about everyday things from where they put their keys to what they were supposed to get at the store. Memory loss and decreased verbal fluency are particularly serious fibromyalgia symptoms. While memory loss is common as a person ages, a study of cognitive function in fibromyalgia patients showed that those with fibromyalgia had the cognitive ability and recall of someone 20 years older than them.

16. Inability to concentrate, or “fibro fog” 

The most common symptom of mental fibromyalgia is what is known as fibro fog or brain fog. This includes many different cognitive difficulties, such as:

  • Becoming easily confused
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling “hazy” or “fuzzy”
  • Difficulty focusing for long periods of time
  • Being unable to focus or pay attention

This fibro fog is usually caused by overstimulation, high stress, lack of sleep, and some medications. This mist can look like you are taking cold medicine. For many patients, it is one of the most frustrating fibrosis symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

17. Problems with balance and coordination 

Many with fibromyalgia also report that they have trouble balancing or maintaining basic coordination. This could be due to fatigue, but it is also a separate symptom of this syndrome.

18. Fatigue

Between the lack of sleep that is often a symptom of fibromyalgia and the amount of effort required by the smallest task during an attack, fibro patients can feel deeply fatigued. Many of those with fibromyalgia experience sleep disturbances. The constant pain itself can be exhausting. Fibro sufferers tend to report having trouble getting a good night’s sleep and feeling tired when they wake up. Exhaustion is so synonymous with fibro that some experts believe that without sleep disruption and chronic fatigue, it cannot be considered a true case of fibro.

Fibro sufferers have a way of describing this. They call themselves “ladles”, comparing the amount of energy they have each day in terms of the number of spoons they have. If a fibromyalgia patient has ten spoons a day and uses eight to get ready for work, they know they have to make adjustments to rest for the rest of the day.

Fibromyalgia-related mood disorders

If you have fibromyalgia, you are also more likely to experience mood disorders.

19. Depression

As with all chronic pain patients, fibrosis patients are more likely to develop depression as a direct result of their condition. Research has shown that those diagnosed with fibro are three times more likely to have depression compared to those who do not. Depression is one of the most important symptoms to determine early, as it can be difficult to self-identify. It can also lead to other negative effects that can aggravate other fibro symptoms, such as:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Decreased energy
  • Persistent sadness or anxiety

In more advanced cases, it can lead to a feeling of worthlessness and thoughts of death. This can be exacerbated by your inability to regularly attend therapy. Also, when depression is comorbid with a chronic pain condition, the condition will generally not improve unless the depression is treated as well.

20. Nervous energy

When fibromyalgia patients are feeling fine, they can be almost frantic in their desire to do things. Whether it’s playing with your kids or just doing housework painlessly, this can lead to rebound pain later on.

21. Anxiety

Waiting for the next painful flare-up can lead to a constant low-level anxiety buzz. In some patients, this anxiety can begin to turn into a fear of leaving the house, just in case an outbreak should begin. This can also manifest as a panic attack if fibro symptoms suddenly flare up away from home.

22. Emotional sensitivity

As anyone might expect, having any chronic pain condition can cause the sufferer to feel irritable and short-tempered. However, for fibro patients it is more than that.

Many patients have reported that their emotional reactions are much stronger and they have less control over how they express them. Irritability is one of the most common manifestations of this and this sensitivity can be greatly increased by lack of sleep. This sensitivity is true for negative and positive emotions alike.

Mood swings can also have a major impact on the daily lives of fibro patients. Many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia can go from happy to angry in a minute or less. Very often sudden changes in mood are inexplicable, which is why it can have such a devastating effect on professional and personal life.

23. Increased stress

The stress of painful fibromyalgia flare-ups can cause patients to experience PTSD-type symptoms, such as the inability to relax and hypervigilance. This constant high level of stress can lead to other health problems.

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia

There are other fibromyalgia symptoms that are related to, but do not directly fit into any of the other categories. Those include the following.

24. Sleep disorders

Chronic pain patients often experience sleep disturbances, and fibro patients are no different. Pain can make it difficult to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep, and the slightest movement can cause pain that wakes them up.

OnHealth reports that:

“Normally, there are several levels of sleep and getting enough deeper levels of sleep can be even more important than total hours of sleep. Fibromyalgia patients lack the deep, restorative level of sleep called non-rapid-motion sleep (NREM). Consequently, fibromyalgia patients often wake up in the morning not feeling fully rested, even though they appear to have had an adequate number of hours of sleep. “

25. Stiffness of the joint

Especially in the morning, stiffness of the joint can be a common symptom of fibro. But it is a double-edged sword: the more a patient moves, the less stiff they will be, but pain often makes movement very difficult.

26. Menstrual pain or changes

Women may experience more pain during their menstrual cycle, including cramps and low back pain. They may also experience irregular menstrual cycles or changes in their cycle length and heaviness. Healthline reports that:

“In a report from the National Fibro Association, women with the condition have more painful periods than usual. Sometimes the pain fluctuates with your menstrual cycle. Most women with fibromyalgia are also between the ages of 40 and 55. Research suggests that fibromyalgia symptoms may be worse in women who are postmenopausal or who are experiencing menopause. “

27. Increased likelihood of other health conditions

While not a direct symptom of fibromyalgia, symptoms can greatly affect a person’s ability to participate in their normal routines and activities. If these include a regular exercise routine that is no longer regular or as vigorous, a fibro patient may find themselves with a higher body mass index. This can lead to other health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Law Firm.

MedicineNet also reports that: “Fibromyalgia can occur on its own, but people with certain other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other types of arthritis, may be more likely to have it.”

Restless legs syndrome and vision problems are also linked to fibromyalgia.

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