Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition which leaves a person extremely tired, with an aching body and deep muscle pain. It's estimated nearly 3% of the population is affected and more women than men have the condition.
There is currently no cure - but there are treatments and people with mild to moderate fibromyalgia are able to live a near normal life.
The severity of symptoms can change and are similar to a number of other conditions, which is why it can take time to get a diagnosis.
The 5 most common symptoms of fibromyalgia
- Pain. The main reason a person with fibromyalgia goes to their GP is pain, which affects more than 97% of people with the condition.
- Fibromyalgia pain can be head to toe and felt over the entire body. It can be a deep, sharp, dull, throbbing or aching pain that is felt in the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joints. It can be described as aching, burning, stabbing or tender.
- Fatigue. Aside from pain, the other main symptom is fatigue. This is not just normal tiredness. Some describe it as being similar to the symptoms of flu. Others compare it to working long hours and missing a lot of sleep. You can feel tired when you wake up, too fatigued to start a relatively easy task, too tired to work, have sex or to exercise.
- Unrefreshing sleep. While people with fibromyalgia may fall asleep without difficulty, their sleep isn't good. During sleep, people with fibromyalgia have constant bursts of brain activity similar to the activity that occurs in the brain when they are awake. Tests in sleep laboratories have shown they experience interruptions in deep sleep and as a result they don't get enough deep sleep and their body can't rejuvenate itself.
- Morning stiffness. Studies have shown that more than 75% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia feel stiffness in the morning, the same type of stiffness people feel with many types of arthritis, especially rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis. Some people say that the morning stiffness lasts only a few minutes, but in general, it is usually very noticeable for more than 15 to 20 minutes each day. In some cases it will last for hours, and in others it will be present all day.
- Painful trigger or tender points. These trigger points are not random they are in predictable places on the body. For a person with fibromyalgia, pressing the trigger points is extremely painful.