Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that causes widespread pain throughout the body. Pain is caused by a problem with the nervous system processing pain signals.
Fibromyalgia can cause symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and mental fog.
Doctors may not immediately consider fibromyalgia when evaluating these types of symptoms because the pain is common in many other conditions. This is one reason why it takes an average of five years for people with this disorder to be diagnosed.
Knowing the type, location, and other symptoms of the pain can help your doctor make a diagnosis. The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment to relieve your symptoms.
Read on to learn about the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia, as well as a few unusual ones you might not expect.
Key signs and symptoms
The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain and tenderness in all the muscles and joints of your body. The pain may be variable, but the pain must last for at least three months to meet the criteria for the diagnosis. The pain must be in a certain number of parts of the body and must be above a certain severity score. And you shouldn’t have another disease (like arthritis) that could explain the pain.
Fibromyalgia can cause many other symptoms, including:
lack of energy
depression or anxiety
memory problems, trouble concentrating (sometimes called “fibro fog”)
a muscle twitch or pull
numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
itching, burning and other skin problems
The most severe symptoms
Pain from fibromyalgia can be severe and constant. It can be severe enough to keep you home from work or other activities.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents to the National Health Interview Survey reported feeling sick most or every day of their lives.
Fibromyalgia can also cause strong emotional symptoms. More than 43% of people in the National Health Interview Survey had enough anxiety or depression to take medication.
Of all the symptoms of fibromyalgia, fatigue can have the biggest impact on your life. Chronic fatigue affects more than 90 percent of sufferers.
Fibromyalgia fatigue is not ordinary fatigue. It’s bone-chilling fatigue that drains your body of energy and turns every activity into a chore.
Between 40 and 70 percent of people with fibromyalgia have uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as:
diarrhea and/or constipation
to have a stomach ache
And up to 70 percent have persistent tension or migraine headaches, which are often severe. Headaches can be caused by sore muscles in the head, neck, or shoulders.
A more unusual symptom
Here are some other symptoms you may experience with fibromyalgia:
sensitivity to sound, light and temperature
need to urinate urgently
food allergy symptoms such as stuffy nose, shortness of breath, diarrhea and vomiting