Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

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    The pain of fibromyalgia (FM) is profound, chronic and widespread. It can migrate to all parts of the body and vary in intensity. FM pain has been described as stabbing and shooting pain, with deep muscular aching, throbbing and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling and burning in the extremities are often present and add to the discomfort of the person with fibromyalgia. The severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Aggravating factors that affect pain include cold/humid weather, non-restorative sleep, physical and mental fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety and stress.
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    If you ask any person with fibromyalgia (FM) what fibromyalgia is, their response would be pain; from the top of their head to the end of their toes. It's pain that "waxes and wanes" from day to day, and persists even with the use of scientifically accepted medical treatments. The pain experience is described as deep muscular aching, shooting, throbbing, stabbing, pounding and at times it is unbearable. People with FM do not sleep well, waking up feeling like they have been hit by a "Mack truck," with morning stiffness or spasticity that makes it difficult to move. Repetitive movement seems to accentuate the pain and forces many people with FM to severely limit their activities, including exercise routines. This lack of exercise results in people becoming physically unfit, causing their FM symptoms to become more severe. The other major complaint is fatigue so severe that people have a difficult time performing everyday tasks, enjoying hobbies, staying employed or taking part in their children's activities. People may feel as though their arms and legs are weighed down by cement and their bodies may feel so drained of energy that every task is a major effort.
  • 2 Answers
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    ANatalie E. Azar, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Can the change of seasons or the weather impact my fibromyalgia symptoms?

    Research suggests that changes in seasons and the weather do not have an impact on fibromyalgia symptoms; but patients often claim that weather makes a difference. Watch rheumatologist Natalie Azar, MD, explain how weather can impact symptoms.


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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    Fibromyalgia is more than "just pain." For some people with fibromyalgia, other symptoms are just as, or more, disabling. For example:
    • Poor sleep affects four in five people with fibromyalgia, with poor sleep also linked to the increase of pain.
    • Half of those with fibromyalgia experience fibro fog, a term used for memory problems and confusion. These symptoms have been linked to more severe fibromyalgia pain, fatigue, and stiffness.
    • Two in three people with fibromyalgia experience problems with depression or anxiety.
    • Two in five people with fibromyalgia have problems with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or bloating.
    • Urinary problems, bladder and genital pain, and sexual dysfunction may also occur in fibromyalgia.
    • Pain, poor sleep, fatigue, and fibro fog are the most important symptoms people with fibromyalgia want to have treated.
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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    Be sure your doctor understands your full range of fibromyalgia symptoms. Although many, most, or all of them may be part of your fibromyalgia, many of the same difficulties can occur with other health conditions.

    It's important to discuss each of the symptoms you experience with your doctor, for two reasons. First, although each of these symptoms is common in fibromyalgia, each can also occur as the result of other medical conditions. Your doctor may refer to these symptoms as non-specific, meaning that you can experience them with fibromyalgia, as well as with a wide variety of other health conditions. Therefore, it's important to make sure you don't have another illness before treating your symptoms as part of fibromyalgia. Second, your doctor will want to tailor your individual fibromyalgia treatment to target your most severe symptoms. Some treatments help a broad range of fibromyalgia symptoms; others are more effective for individual symptoms.
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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    A 5-year study following fibromalgia symptoms in almost 300 women found significant improvement over time in fatigue, function, and depression. Improvement occurred after 1 year, with greater improvement over the following 4 years. So, the good news is that there's light at the end of the tunnel. The bad news is that the tunnel is long -- improvement will occur, but it's probably not going to happen overnight, after a few weeks, or even after a few months.
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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    Monitoring fibromyalgia symptoms can provide helpful information to you and your healthcare provider, and identify your most troublesome problem areas. Completing your symptom logs before visiting the doctor and bringing the results with you will help you to more effectively communicate with him. It also means you won't leave your appointment thinking, "Drat. I forgot to tell him about..."

    Once you have started a treatment program, complete the logs every week or so to help monitor your progress. Most fibromyalgia treatments take several weeks to produce noticeable effects. Sometimes, it's hard to recognize that you're making progress, especially when improvements occur gradually. Being able to go back several weeks to review your symptoms before treatment can help you decide if your treatment is helping or not. Being able to identify improvements can prevent you from abandoning treatments that might have become more beneficial if you had continued them.

    The FibroFatigue Scale was developed by researchers in Sweden. This tool can be used to rate a wide range of common fibromyalgia symptoms. It is a reliable and accurate tool for measuring the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms and changes in symptoms with treatment.

    Another tool you can use to keep track of the severity of your symptoms is a simple 0 to 10 scale. This can be used for pain (0 equals no pain and 10 equals unbearable pain), sleep disturbance (0 when sleep is good and 10 when it is severely disrupted), and fatigue (0 represents no fatigue and 10 the worst fatigue possible). Noting symptoms that are still a problem for you and adding details about the limitations they impose can help you and your healthcare provider target treatments. Sleep disturbance also can be measured using the Insomnia Severity Index.

    Keeping a diary to track your progress can help you continue following your treatment program. Diaries are also helpful for guiding you in progressing at an appropriate pace -- not advancing too quickly or too slowly. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider if you are not able to advance your program or continue following it, because your program may need to be modified.
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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that can affect people differently, so it's possible that one person's fibromyalgia symptoms would be different from another person's. That said, the symptoms used to diagnose fibromyalgia are pain in multiple areas of the body that has lasted for three months or more. Doctors also look at how much people are bothered by related symptoms, including fatigue, poor sleep and inability to think clearly.
     
    Other common signs of fibromyalgia include migraine headaches and symptoms that overlap with other conditions, such as irritable bowel or bladder, restless legs syndrome, depression, anxiety, dizziness and loss of coordination.
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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that can affect people differently, so it's possible that one person's fibromyalgia symptoms would be different from another person's. That said, the symptoms used to diagnose fibromyalgia are pain in multiple areas of the body that has lasted for three months or more. Doctors also look at how much people are bothered by related symptoms, including fatigue, poor sleep and inability to think clearly.
     
    Other common signs of fibromyalgia include migraine headaches and symptoms that overlap with other conditions, such as irritable bowel or bladder, restless legs syndrome, depression, anxiety, dizziness and loss of coordination.
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    AJacob Teitelbaum, Integrative Medicine, answered

    Muscles are like springs. They take energy to relax and are naturally contracted. During the energy crisis that occurs in fibromyalgia, your muscles get locked in a certain position with tender knots called trigger points in the belly of each muscle. These then hurt when pressed on and can trigger symptoms at a distance. For example, irritable bowel syndrome and sinusitis, though often caused by the candida overgrowth, are also contributed to by an autonomic reflex from the trigger points.

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