Symptoms of FibromyalgiaEn Español (Spanish Version)
Symptoms of fibromyalgia may vary in severity from person to person, ranging from mild to very debilitating. In addition, the symptoms vary from day-to-day or from month-to-month. Although symptoms may be extremely uncomfortable and often cause psychological stress, they rarely cause permanent physical damage.
The symptoms most commonly associated with fibromyalgia include:
Pain—Pain is the most prominent symptom, occurring for at least three months and taking many different forms. It has been described by patients as aching, burning, throbbing, shooting, tingling, or stabbing. Pain is felt on both sides of the body, both below and above the waistline. It is generally located in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips, although many people experience migratory pain (pain that moves from one part of the body to another).
Pain is often worse in the morning and may be most prevalent in muscle groups that are used frequently. Factors such as weather changes, stress, exercise, or menstrual cycles may cause the pain to increase.
Fatigue—Although some people may experience only mild fatigue, in others it is so debilitating that they are unable to work. This fatigue is not improved by sleep, which itself is not normal or restful.
Sleep Disorder—Sleep studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia who suffer from fatigue generally have increased brain arousal at the time when the deepest sleep cycle (stage IV, delta) should be occurring. This prevents the body from getting the normally restorative benefits of sleep and may be the cause of fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.
Difficulty Thinking (“Fibrofog”)—Many fibromyalgia patients report an inability to concentrate, as well as memory impairment.
Concurrent Symptoms and Conditions—Certain symptoms and medical conditions are more prevalent in fibromyalgia patients, such as:
- Digestive problems that may cause cramping, heartburn , or alternating constipation and diarrhea (“spastic colon” and irritable bowel syndrome )
- Chronic headaches and jaw pain
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
- Psychiatric conditions, such as depression , anxiety , and nervousness
- Vision problems, such as dry eyes or difficulty focusing on nearby objects
- Balance problems, such as dizziness or impaired coordination
- Pelvic/urinary discomfort, which may be experienced as pelvic pain, frequent urination, painful menstrual periods, or painful sexual intercourse
- Restless leg syndrome
- Skin problems, such as itchy, dry, or blotchy skin
Heightened Sensitivities—People with fibromyalgia often report an increased sensitivity to:
- Bright lights
- Certain foods
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home.html .
American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/ .
Fibromyalgia Network website. Available at: http://www.fmnetnews.com/ .
Last reviewed August 2008 by Robert Leach, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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