When people talk about Fibromyalgia symptoms, they usually think pain. However, whilst more people recognise now that Fibromyalgia symptoms include other key symptoms, they are often surprised to learn that there is an extensive Fibromyalgia Symptoms list.
This list is not to be used for the purpose of self-diagnosis as many of these symptoms may be produced by other serious illnesses. Hence you must seek the advice of a medical doctor to ensure that you receive appropriate medical care.
Core Fibromyalgia Symptoms List:
The fibromyalgia symptom of pain is actually much more varied than many people realise.
Fibromyalgia pain is often described as a deep muscle pain, but the pain can actually be quite different for different people. A primary diagnostic symptom has historically been tenderness and pain upon pressing on a number of tender points located in specific locations around the body. But pain can be all over the body similar to the ache you feel when you have a flu, or it can be more specific like a burning or stabbing pain which can throb and even be described a shooting pain.
So whilst the pain is usually widespread, it can be more localised and feel different than you might think. Many people experience pain even upon the touching of the skin which is called Allodynia, as well as joint pain (especially the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)) and neuropathic pain which cause odd nerve sensations like tingling, pins and needles, crawling or itching sensations and even numbness(called Paraesthesia).
Patients experiencing Fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even if they have slept a long time. The fatigue is often severe interfering with most daily activities. It is an exhaustion that goes beyond feeling tired.
Fibromyalgia symptoms include a number of sleep problems. Besides waking unrefreshed, many people have difficulty getting to sleep and/or wake up in the middle of the night without being able to return to sleep. Research studies have shown that even when people don’t realise their sleep is disturbed, their sleep is disrupted from Stage 4 sleep, reducing the restorative quality of sleep. Another common co-existing sleep condition is sleep apnea.
One of the most noticeable fibromyalgia symptoms is cognitive dysfunction often described as ‘fibro-fog’ or ‘brain-fog’. This fibromyalgia symptom may include difficulty concentrating, confusion, memory problems, difficulty processing information, word retrieval and disorientation.
Other Fibromyalgia Symptoms:
It is often not recognised that there are many more fibromyalgia symptoms than the ‘core fibromyalgia symptoms’ listed above. Not all people diagnosed have these, but other fibromyalgia symptoms include:
- Neurological Sensitivities such as aversion to touch, strong smells, lights, sounds and even tastes
- Gastrointestinal disturbance including diarrhoea, constipation and other difficulties (sometimes a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is made)
- Low grade fever
- Low body temperature
- Vision problems
- Dry or sore eyes, sometimes described as pain behind or inside the eyes
- Need to urinate, often along with unquenchable thirst
- Muscle twitching described by some people as jolts or flashes
- Chills and cold hands or feet
- Significant change in weight
- Decreased libido
- Morning stiffness
- Alcohol intolerance
- Strange smell sensations often described as ammonium
- Profuse sweating
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
- Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
- Painful or swollen lymph nodes
- Hair loss
- Shortness of breath
- Temperature or weather sensitivity (weather changes can lead to symptom exacerbation)
- Canker sores and infections in the mouth
Psychological Fibromyalgia Symptoms List
People experiencing fibromyalgia often also have psychological fibromyalgia symptoms including:
- mood swings
- emotional “flattening”
Fibromyalgia symptoms from secondary diagnoses (co-existing conditions of fibromyalgia):
Given the large range of Fibromyalgia symptoms, many of these symptoms are actually attributed to ‘other’ illnesses, with patients often thinking of themselves as being ‘particularly unlucky’ to have so many different things wrong with them. Often as symptoms change, a diagnosis of ‘separate’ syndromes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) or similar syndrome is made. However, these conditions are more and more recognised as being part of the same syndrome and in essence the same illness with merely different symptoms.
But when you realise that Fibromyalgia affects every major system of the body, including the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, cardiovascular system and even your cellular functions and metabolism, then it’s easy to see how so many symptoms and ‘different illnesses’ can occur.
Some of these are genuinely separate illnesses, however, they are often experienced by people with Fibromyalgia (FMS) and can often resolve when recovery from FMS is made. Such conditions may also exist before or after the patient has experienced FMS and include but are not limited to:
- Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or exacerbation of symptoms before and during period
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV)
- Adrenal Insufficiency (Adrenal Fatigue)
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Interstitial cystitis (IC)
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Autoimmune conditions
Fibromyalgia Symptom Severity
It’s important to remember that different patients experience symptoms differently.
Whilst some have milder Fibromyalgia symptoms most of the time, allowing them to care for themselves, do light housework and work part or even full-time, they usually do so at the cost of reducing all other activities including social activities.
Some people experience moderate Fibromyalgia symptoms that restrict their abilities to a greater extent, with reduced mobility and usually not being able to work at all.
At its worst, Fibromyalgia symptoms can be severe and debilitating where people are mostly bed-bound (or couch-bound) and need support caring for themselves.
Many people will waver between these symptom severities over time as they experience flare-ups. However, it is important to realise that the illness is not necessarily progressive. So whilst some people experience a worsening over the years, others find their symptoms reduce as time goes on. Reading and watching videos about patients that are severely ill can be quite distressing and should be avoided. Given the impact that stress can have, such activities can sometimes even lead to worsening of symptoms.
It is also important not to compare your Fibromyalgia symptoms to others. Just because others have more severe symptoms or have been sick for longer, doesn’t diminish your experience or make it less significant. Being chronically ill is difficult and whilst your focus is best placed on recovery and finding some enjoyment in every day regardless of how you are feeling, please realise that compared to a healthy person, your experience of FMS symptoms is of course a difficult experience for you regardless of severity.
The danger of misattribution of Fibromyalgia Symptoms
With so many symptoms and so many co-existing diagnoses, patients often experience ‘diagnosis fatigue’ where they no longer get their symptoms investigated and simply see them as just another Fibromyalgia Syndrome Symptom.
So whilst many people with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) stop panicking every time they get symptoms that look like some other major and serious disease, it is all too easy to become complacent.
It’s absolutely essential that any worsening of symptoms or new symptoms be reported to your doctor so that these can be appropriately diagnosed and treated where possible.
Want to help?
You can help by
- Making this article better by commenting below with any symptoms of fibromyalgia or co-morbid diagnosis of fibromyalgia that you have experienced that are not listed above.
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