Fibromyalgia Signs & Symptoms
There are no concrete signs or telltale test result aberrations that establish the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Therefore, the characterizing symptoms experienced by patients are everything there is for doctors upon which to form a diagnosis.
Fibromyalgia (FM, FMS, and known vernacularly as fibro) is a disorder that targets the central nervous system, presenting with heightened pain, particularly at specific pressure points around the body, a disorder known as allodynia. While there is a range of symptoms that typify fibromyalgia, there are key signs that distinguish it apart from other disorders.
(If you have fibromyalgia, then you may be interested in enrolling for our fibro clinical trial in DeLand, FL.)
Despite much dispute in the medical world over whether or not FM is a disease, the U.S. National institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology have recognized FM as a disease with its own indications for diagnosis. Some physicians and researchers claim that a disorder with no available diagnostic testing cannot be classified as a clinical disease, and therefore FM is not a disease. Others are of the opinion that it is a somatoform mental disorder in which the physical symptoms cannot be clinically confirmed or proven as a symptom of drugs or as a medical disease.
Symptoms that characterize fibromyalgia include the following:
- Allodynia (abnormal pain experienced by light touches at nine specific pressure points around the body that normally do not cause pain)
- Severe fatigue
- Chronic persistent dull widespread pain that typically arises from muscles
- Chronic localized pain, specifically in the hips, lower back neck and shoulders
- Pain that worsens in damp weather, in the cold, during or after activity, with stress and anxiety
- Morning joint stiffness and pain
- Joint stiffness
- Bowel and bladder abnormalities
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Cognitive impairment (“fibrolog”)
- Cognitive overload
- Short and long-term memory loss
- Inability to multi-task
- Impaired attention span
- Performing activities slowly
- Migraine or tension headaches
- Impaired concentration
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
- Fatigue upon waking in the morning, regardless of amount of sleep
- Chronic sleep disturbances, such as pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Comorbid temporomandibular joint disorder
- Muscle twitching and prolonged muscle spasms
- Nerve pain
- Weakness or numbness in the limbs or parts of limbs
- Tingling in the skin
- Specific structural brain abnormalities
- Dermatological disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosis
- Co-existing rheumatic disease
- Co-existing psychiatric condition
- Co-existing stress-related disorder
(The number of symptoms present will vary from cases to case)
Allodynia is the most famous symptom of fibromyalgia. Not all patients experience allodynia, however. The nine pressure points at which allodynian pain presents itself are the following: the back of the head, between the shoulder blades, top of shoulders, front sides of the neck, upper chest, outer elbows, upper hips, sides of hips and inner knees.
It is well known that FM is caused by stress, and many believe that it specifically attributable to childhood trauma. It is possible for children to develop fibromyalgia and not experience symptoms or attain a proper diagnosis until they are adults. FM patients have structural brain abnormalities caused by the stress that may very well have caused or contributed to the disease. Many of the symptoms of FM are also symptoms experienced by people who experience prolonged stress have endured trauma.
Talk to your doctor today if you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia. With proper exercise, personalized cognitive-behavioral therapy and prescription drugs, you can live a better quality of life. Although there is no cure for FM, there are treatments for the various symptoms you may be experiencing.