It’s not easy to spot fibromyalgia. This is one condition that does not have many visible symptoms. Most symptoms of fibromyalgia — such as pain and fatigue — are hard to see.
Fibromyalgia symptoms are also similar to those of other conditions.
Because of this, it can be difficult to get an accurate diagnosis and find the treatment you need. Read on to learn how to recognize fibromyalgia.
Pain is a constant presence in fibromyalgia. The pain feels as though it’s starting in the muscles, but there are no signs of damage to the tissues. It’s often described as dull.
People with fibromyalgia may be more sensitive than usual to the feeling of pain or to stimuli that cause pain. The discomfort is usually felt all over the body, and it can be made worse by many factors, including stress and a lack of sleep.
Do you ever feel as though you cannot clear your head? Confusion, trouble concentrating, and difficulty remembering are all associated with fibro fog, a feeling that people with fibromyalgia sometimes have.
What causes fibro fog is not clear, but it may have to do with the effects of pain on the brain or a lack of sleep.
Fibromyalgia pain is not the only symptom of this condition that can steal sleep. Many people with fibromyalgia experience a creeping, crawling feeling in their legs at night. The feeling is so uncomfortable that it makes you want to move, which wakes you out of a deep slumber.
The resulting lack of sleep can have a real impact on your ability to function the next day. Learn more about restless leg syndrome.
When you’re in pain, it’s harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. People with fibromyalgia are also more likely to have conditions that interrupt their sleep, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Even when you can sleep, you get less of the deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that helps your body restore itself. Long nights spent lying awake or tossing and turning can lead to morning fatigue.
One 2015 survey found that
During a migraine attack, your head throbs, and you may feel sick to your stomach and throw up. Some people are so sensitive to light and sound during a migraine attack that they have to turn out all the lights and lie down in a dark room until their head pain goes away. Discover other triggers of migraine attacks.
When you have fibromyalgia, the world can be a noisy, bright, and painful place. Fibromyalgia makes you more sensitive to sounds, light, and touch. The slightest pressure on your skin can make you yelp in pain, and you may feel the urge to cover your ears in loud situations, such as concerts. Some people are also sensitive to changes in temperature.
In some cases, fibromyalgia can cause a rash. It’s one of the few outward symptoms of the condition. The rash may be accompanied by itching.
Fibromyalgia may also cause other skin-related symptoms, such as dryness or hyperhidrosis (excess sweating).
When you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), knowing the location of the nearest restroom can become a serious concern. IBS affects the large intestine and can unexpectedly cause:
The condition is more common in people with fibromyalgia, and it can have a serious effect on your everyday life if you do not seek treatment.
Some people with fibromyalgia also have a condition called temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). TMJ causes pain in the jaw area.
If you have TMJ, you’ll notice that your jaw makes snapping or popping noises when you open and close your mouth. You may have trouble opening your mouth all the way to chew or speak. Sometimes TMJ also causes headaches and pain around the ears.
Tender points (or trigger points) are spots on the body that feel sore when you press firmly on them. They can be located on the back of the:
Tender points used to be considered the hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia. Doctors would diagnose fibromyalgia if you felt discomfort in at least 11 out of 18 possible points.
In 2016, the American College of Rheumatology revised its diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. Now, healthcare professionals no longer examine tender points before making a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Instead, they consider whether you have musculoskeletal pain in five possible regions.
Fibromyalgia may resemble many other conditions. As a result, it can be difficult to get an accurate diagnosis.
However, if you deal with chronic pain, a proper diagnosis is key to improving your quality of life. Fibromyalgia is not fatal, but it can have serious, lifelong effects, especially if it’s left untreated.
If you have some of the symptoms above and think you may have fibromyalgia, consider contacting a doctor. They can help you find the treatment you need.