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Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

By Nancy Baxi, M.D. ; Updated April 09, 2018

Fibromyalgia is a condition with chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain, however, many other symptoms and conditions often co-exist. After pain, the most common symptoms are fatigue, depression and anxiety, and trouble thinking clearly or concentrating.

1. Pain

Generally, patients will feel pain in the muscles. Usually, it’s an achy type of pain, but it can be a burning sensation. Some people will have numbness or tingling, as well. The patient may report symptoms similar to the flu, such as achiness and fatigue.

Some patients will have stiffness, especially in the morning or after being still for a while. Their pain can wax and wane in intensity depending on other factors. They might have tender spots in certain areas of their bodies. If this pain lasts for more than three months, you should go to a doctor to be tested for fibromyalgia.

2. Fatigue

Extremely common symptoms are fatigue and low energy. Patients complain of being tired all the time and not sleeping well, either trouble with falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up groggy. Sleep studies have shown that fibromyalgia patients often do not experience all the different phases of sleep.

It can be a vicious cycle in that poor sleep can cause poor mood, both of which can cause increased pain, which can then keep the patient awake at night. Patients will also have poor recovery from exertion, even very minor exertion. They have limited energy to spend during the day and if used up too early, the can be tired the rest of the day.

3. Altered Mood/Thinking

Psychiatric disturbances are common in fibromyalgia patients. Twenty to 50 percent of fibromyalgia patients also suffer from depression and/or anxiety. Some patients also have trouble with thinking or concentrating, called the “fibro-fog.”

Other Associated Conditions

Other associated conditions include tension or migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pelvic pain, temporomandiublar dysfunction (TMD), interstitial cystitis, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTs), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In some patients, these secondary conditions may account for the “fibro-fog.”

Patients can also be sensitive to lights, sounds, and smells. They can have dry mouth, dry eyes, sore throat, painful glands, palpitations and trouble breathing, numbness and tingling in non-painful areas, as well as short-term memory loss.

Some patients may have difficulty with autonomic dysfunction, which means they may have trouble regulating their blood pressure and pulse with position changes, so they may get dizzy easily or periodically experience their heart racing.

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