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Fibromyalgia Symptoms: How Do I Know If I Have Fibromyalgia?

April 25, 2017 in Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that usually causes pain throughout the body in connective tissues, or the muscles, tendons and ligaments. These fibrous tissues account for the “fibro” prefix, and “myalgia” refers to muscle pain. Unfortunately, the exact causes of the condition are not completely known, and some physicians consider fibromyalgia to be a disease of the nervous system and brain instead of the soft tissues.

The Prevalence of Fibromyalgia

Regardless of cause, fibromyalgia causes real symptoms and pain for 8 percent of the population that it affects by the age of 70. About 5 million people in the United States currently suffer from this disorder. Fibromyalgia symptoms include many kinds of pain throughout the body, and people who have the disorder's symptoms could have other health-related conditions with similar symptoms that can complicate making a diagnosis.

The Most Common Fibromyalgia Symptoms

The core fibromyalgia symptoms involve unrelenting, chronic pain that often grows worse with stress, increased physical activity, and other environmental stimuli. These pain accelerators might include bright lights, heat or cold, loud noises, and other intrusive incitements. Your pain might feel similar to the following descriptions:

  • Deep pain in the legs, arms, shoulders and back
  • Aching pain
  • Excessive tenderness in certain areas
  • Shooting pain
  • Sleep disruptions

Other Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Chronic pain is usually defined as pain that continues longer than three months. Regardless of how you perceive the pain, if widespread muscular pain lasts longer than three months, it could be fibromyalgia. Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Headaches
  • Mental stress and anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty remembering and thinking clearly
  • Related conditions such as restless leg syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bloating
  • Sinus problems
  • Jaw pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Skin rashes
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands, arms, legs or feet
  • Muscle spasms
  • Lower back pain
  • Bladder problems

Possible Complications of Fibromyalgia

There are many possible complications of fibromyalgia symptoms that aren’t limited to just its physical symptoms. The pain, disability and reduced quality of life can prevent people from working and pursuing normal activities. Other complications of the neuromuscular disorder include:

  • Women often experience up to 40-percent losses of physical functions and 67-percent losses of mental equilibrium.
  • Suicide death rates and injuries are higher for people who suffer from FMS chronic pain.
  • Sufferers of the condition also have seemingly related arthritis-generated conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other rheumatic conditions.
  • Multiple hospitalizations are common.
  • Victims commonly become depressed and develop other mental problems.

Treatments and Prognosis

One study found that Traditional Chinese Medicine often delivered better relief from the symptoms of fibromyalgia than conventional treatments and pain medications. 1 The study found that reports of the disease have increased dramatically in recent years, which is possibly caused by greater knowledge of the condition.

Pharmacological Treatments Vs. Alternative Treatments

Multiple peer-reviewed articles have found that common pharmacological treatments — such as anti-inflammatory drugs, topical agents, opioid and nonopioid analgesics, muscle relaxants and others — seem to provide little relief from the symptoms. However, physical therapies, meditation, Chinese herbal medicines, aerobic exercises, TENS therapy, and combinations of acupuncture and cupping have produced positive reviews from fibromyalgia victims.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine explain that many of the therapies for treating fibromyalgia attempt to correct an imbalance in the muscles and abnormal neurotransmissions in the brain and nervous system. This yin-and-yang treatment approach seems to provide positive mental and physical relief from many of the disorder’s symptoms. Funded research shows that mental disciplines can also complement any physical treatments, and these include yoga, mindfulness meditation, tai chi and biofeedback techniques. 2

The Best Treatment For You

Regardless of treatment, the best results are achieved when patients combine physical and mental techniques — such as exercise and meditation — as effective treatments for the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia symptoms can be confusing because they can mimic other conditions. People with fibromyalgia symptoms often have other health issues, which complicates diagnosis and treatment.

It’s critical to consult a doctor who treats fibromyalgia as a physical ailment because real-world treatments can provide relief even if the condition is ultimately caused by the brain. If you have chronic pain and no clear cause, your symptoms might indicate that you have fibromyalgia. For more information read the article "Fibromyalgia: This is Everything You Need to Know" or visit Dr-HO'S Fibromyalgia page.

More Fibromyalgia Content and Information

Fibromyalgia: This is Everything You Need to Know

Fibromyalgia Causes: Where Did This Pain Come From?

Fibromyalgia Causes: Evidence That It’s Not Just In Your Head

Fibromyalgia Symptoms: How Do I Know If I Have Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia Diet: What to Eat & What to Avoid as a Fibromyalgia Sufferer

Fibromyalgia Exercises: Work Out Chronic Pain

The Fibromyalgia Exercise Plan

Fibromyalgia Tender Points: Where Does It Hurt?

Why is Fibromyalgia More Common In Women?

Sources:

  1. NCBI.nlm.nih.gov: Traditional Chinese Medicine for Treatment of Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Retrieved from
    www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110829/
  2. Nciiih.nik.gov: What’s the Bottom Line? Retrieved from
    nccih.nih.gov/health/fibromyalgia
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