Fibromyalgia is one of many chronic disorders that is incredibly difficult to diagnosis because of its widespread impact. Symptoms can be experienced virtually anywhere in the body. Furthermore, fibromyalgia symptoms frequently overlap with other conditions making it a disease that is easy to misdiagnose.
To better recognize and treat fibromyalgia, it’s important to be informed of the basics of the condition itself and the many symptoms associated with it.
Fibromyalgia is a notoriously difficult condition to diagnose and treat. A primary difficulty of fibromyalgia is that it impacts multiple systems such as the brain, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). These areas have tremendous influence over numerous functions meaning that fibromyalgia has the ability to cause significant, widespread damage.
The most identifiable and characteristic symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic widespread pain, fatigue that is not aided with rest, and cognitive problems or “fibro fog.” However, other symptoms may develop, and their intensity can increase significantly over time. Because fibromyalgia impacts numerous areas throughout the body, symptoms are equally diverse and widespread. The many types of fibromyalgia symptoms can be broken down into different categories.
The intensity of symptoms varies depending on the patient meaning that each person has a unique fibromyalgia experience. This is typically due to individual variables such as stress level, changes in weather, environment, too much or too little physical activity, and a lack of good quality rest. These factors may cause patients to experience significant shifts in symptom intensity and frequency. This means that a patient may experience debilitating pain or fatigue one day and the next be relatively free of physical discomfort. Because patient experience can vary, it is important to be familiar with the wide range of possible fibromyalgia symptoms.
The Many Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The most common complaints of fibromyalgia patients relate to physical pain and discomfort. Fibromyalgia is well known for inducing chronic pain throughout the body. However, for fibromyalgia to be diagnosed as the cause, the pain must affect various regions including both sides of the body as well as above and below the waist.
Pain caused by fibromyalgia typically comes in waves meaning there are often periods of intense pain leveled out by times of relatively low discomfort. This aspect of fibromyalgia increases the possibility of rebound pain. If a patient fells well enough to exercise on a given day, they have a notable risk of overexertion resulting in more intense or debilitating pain the following day.
The most common physical pains and discomforts associated with fibromyalgia include:
- Joint stiffness
- Menstrual pain or changes
- Muscle spasms
- Sore throat
- Widespread muscle soreness
Fibromyalgia may also cause one to become overly sensitive to environmental stimuli resulting in various pains and discomfort. These issues can be triggered by everyday factors such as changes in weather, temperature fluctuations (too hot or too cold), odors from chemicals or foods, bright lights, loud noises, and even touch. These triggers are specific to the individual and may change from day to day.
Fibromyalgia-induced sensory symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Headaches or migraines
- Hypersensitivity to cold, touch, heat, light, noise, odors etc.
- Increased pain sensitivity
- Pins and needles
Mood and Neurological Interference
Typically, those with fibromyalgia experience physical and neurological disruptions that can have a significant negative impact on your mood. The result is a variety of disorders that can cause great mental stress that further inhibits the body’s ability to restore itself. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is frequently misdiagnosed and subsequently mistreated with medications that can further increase the risk and severity of mood disorders.
Mood disorders that are common to fibromyalgia include
- Emotional sensitivity
- Heightened stress response
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Nervous energy
Maintaining focus and completing tasks is typically a challenge for fibromyalgia patients. This is because the disorder prompts the development of multiple cognitive disrupting symptoms that can make it seem like the mind is swimming through a hazy bog. “Fibro fog” is the colloquial name that has been given to the distinct cognitive dysfunction that comes with fibromyalgia. This mental sluggishness and inability to focus are common complaints of fibromyalgia patients.
Cognitive issues frequently seen among fibromyalgia patients include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mental fatigue
- Problems balancing and staying coordinated
- Slowed response time
Intestinal ailments may also develop in those with fibromyalgia. This can range from mild discomfort to more serious sustained issues. The intestinal impact of fibromyalgia may also increase the intensity of other symptoms. This is likely because the majority of the immune system is housed in the intestine. Dysfunction of this system can cause greater disruption elsewhere and promote the development of chronic disorders and other forms of disease.
The most common gastrointestinal issues found in fibromyalgia patients are:
- Excessive gas
- Flu-like symptoms
- Interstitial cystitis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Painful bladder syndrome
- Poor digestion
- Weight gain
Seeking Out Assistance
Many people suffer from daily aches and pains, brain fog, and fatigue without giving their symptoms a second thought. If these symptoms persist, it is possible that fibromyalgia may be the cause. In addition to these primary issues, if you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms discussed above, especially if you are being treated for another form of chronic disease, speak to your doctor about the possibility of fibromyalgia.
1. 8 Natural Ways to Overcome Fibromyalgia Symptoms. Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/fibromyalgia-symptoms/
2. Fibromyalgia Symptoms — 27 Of The Most Common Signs. Pain Doctor. https://paindoctor.com/fibromyalgia-symptoms/