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Fibromyalgia symptoms

Are you looking for information about the symptoms of fibromyalgia? Here is an overview of the symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia that you can use to help you talk with your doctor.

The main fibromyalgia symptoms include deep muscle pain, painful trigger points or tender points, and morning stiffness. Other major symptoms of fibromyalgia include sleep disorders, fatigue and anxiety. In order to make an accurate diagnosis, your doctor will need to review the signs and symptoms you are experiencing. Fibromyalgia affects far more women than men.

What are the common symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Common symptoms of fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyalgia syndrome or FMS, may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration and memory problems - known as “fibro fog”
  • Depression
  • Digestive disorders
  • Discolouration of hands and feet (Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • Dryness in mouth, nose and eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Morning stiffness
  • Pain
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Swelling, numbness, and tingling in hands, arms, feet and legs
  • Trigger points
  • Urinary symptoms

Is pain the most common symptom of fibromyalgia?

Yes. Widespread pain is characteristic of more than 97% of patients with fibromyalgia. In fact, pain is usually what forces a person with fibromyalgia to see his or her doctor.

Unlike the joint pain of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia pain is felt over the entire body. It is a deep, sharp, dull, throbbing or aching pain that is felt in the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joints. The muscle and tissue pain is described as tender, aching, burning or stabbing. A sufferer may also experience increased sensitivity and prolonged pain.

For some people with fibromyalgia, the pain comes and goes. The pain also seems to travel throughout the body.

Do painful trigger points accompany FMS pain?

Along with the deep muscle soreness and body aches, people with fibromyalgia have painful trigger points or localised areas of tenderness around their joints that hurt when pressed with a finger. It is the tissue around the joints rather than the joints themselves that are painful. These trigger points or tender points are often not areas of deep pain. Instead, they are superficial, located under the surface of the skin.

The location of trigger points is not random. They are in predictable places on the body. If you apply pressure to trigger points on a person without fibromyalgia, he or she would just feel pressure. For a person with fibromyalgia, pressing the trigger points is extremely painful.

Is fatigue a fibromyalgia symptom?

Next to pain and the tender trigger points, fatigue is a major complaint. Fatigue in fibromyalgia refers to a lingering tiredness that is more constant and limiting than what we would usually expect. Some patients complain of being tired even when they should feel rested, such as when they have had enough sleep. Some patients report the fatigue of fibromyalgia as being similar to the symptoms of flu. Some compare it to how it feels after working long hours and missing a lot of sleep.

With fibromyalgia, you may feel:

  • Fatigue on getting up in the morning.
  • Fatigue after mild activity such as shopping or cooking dinner.
  • Too fatigued to start a task such as folding clothes or ironing.
  • Too fatigued to exercise.
  • More fatigued after exercise.
  • Too fatigued for sex.
  • Too fatigued to function adequately at work.
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