Pain and Fatigue: Is It Fibromyalgia?
Is it Fibromyalgia?
Does the pain in your neck, shoulders, chest, elbows, hips, or knees have you wondering if your symptoms could be more than just soreness? You’re often fatigued, no matter how much sleep you’ve had. You feel stiff in the morning. The pain is disrupting your life; you want answers and solutions.
Could it be fibromyalgia? Using this guide, learn about fibromyalgia, its symptoms, and the possible solutions to your pain.
Aches and Pains
Fibromyalgia is more than a few aches and soreness around your body. Its overwhelming characteristic is long-standing pain throughout the body that is often described as a deep, radiating ache. The pain can increase with activity, cold or damp weather, anxiety, and stress. It can sometimes improve throughout the day and get worse later in the evening.
Where Does It Hurt?
For the pain to be considered “widespread” and related to fibromyalgia, it must occur in all four quadrants of the body—above and below the waist and on both sides of the body. Fibromyalgia is often associated with “tender points,” various points on the body that are sensitive to firm pressure.
Tender points are explained on the next slide.
Since 1991, fibromyalgia has been diagnosed using 18 tender points located all over the body. This diagnostic method was often criticized because it did not account for other symptoms unrelated to pain, such as fatigue or cognitive problems. The diagnostic criteria were updated in May 2010 to be inclusive of all symptoms.
Learn more about the new diagnostic process on the last slide.
Fatigue & Fibromyalgia
Along with pain, a majority of fibromyalgia sufferers have sleep disorders that cause chronic fatigue to the point of exhaustion. Some experts believe that fibromyalgia prevents a person from entering the restorative part of the sleep process, which is one of the main characteristics of insomnia. Sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome have also been associated with fibromyalgia-related fatigue.
Cognitive and Physical Symptoms
Fibromyalgia has also been known to cause cognitive problems, such as difficulty concentrating or remembering information. This is known as the “fibro fog.”
Physical symptoms can include tingling or numbness, headaches, dizziness, and digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
There is no known cause for fibromyalgia, but preliminary research suggests genetics are involved. And studies have found abnormal levels of several brain chemicals that are common among people with fibromyalgia:
- Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood
- Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps make serotonin
- Substance P, a protein involved in transmitting pain signals from the nerves to the brain
Fibromyalgia Treatment Options
For mild fibromyalgia suffers, symptoms can go away with simple destressing and lifestyle changes. Studies show that improved fitness, especially aerobic exercise, can relieve fibromyalgia symptoms. Several other options have been successful to varying degrees:
- dietary changes
- pain medications
More Fibromyalgia Resources
Fibromyalgia pain, sleeplessness, and fatigue can drastically affect the quality of your life. This disorder has many myths about it; that’s why getting the right information is so important.