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first signs of fibromyalgia

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia, otherwise known as "Fibro" or "FMS", is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain in the bones and muscles. It is accompanied by fatigue, mood swings and tenderness. Though there are many theories about what causes Fibromyalgia, there is no consensus. The diagnosis can also be very difficult, as the condition often appears alongside other physical and psychological conditions.

Even though there is no confirmed cure for FMS, there are ways to live with it. Recognizing the potential warning signs can help you get ahead of the negative effects so you can start actively making a plan for how to manage Fibromyalgia.

Learn more about the common first signs of Fibromyalgia to look out for. It is important to understand that these symptoms often cluster together. If some or all of these signs appear simultaneously, discuss them with your doctor.

Constant, Widespread Pain

There are many different ways to describe Fibromyalgia pain. Some feel a sharp and shooting pain, while others feel deep muscular aches. No matter how it's felt, FMS pain is constant and widespread. The pain occurs on both sides of the body, as well as above and below the waist. Chronic pain lasting longer than three months is the most symptom of Fibromyalgia. The intensity of the pain may change based on stress levels or physical activity, but if it lasts for more than three months with no other explanation, it could very well be FMS.

Fortunately, there are ways to relieve this pain such as massage therapy, cold therapy and acupuncture. For an even more effective, non-invasive treatment, TENS therapy provides proven relief from chronic pain.

first signs of fibromyalgia

Tender Points

In addition to widespread muscle pain, Fibromyalgia can also be accompanied by multiple tender points around the body. Instead of a deep, general pain, these tender points are concentrated and feel like they are sitting just underneath the skin. These areas are also very sensitive; even minimal pressure can make a person feel discomfort. There are eighteen of these points in total, and they break down into nine symmetrical pairs:

  1. Sides of the neck
  2. Each side of the upper chest
  3. The inner elbows
  4. The inside of the knees
  5. The back of the head on the sides
  6. The tops of the shoulders
  7. Shoulder blades
  8. Upper buttocks
  9. Above the hips

While doctors do not yet know what causes these tender points, their locations on the body are not random. In the case of FMS, they happen in these documented places. Look up  additional information about Fibromyalgia tender points in order to fully understand how this pain is distributed and what can be done about it.

first signs of fibromyalgia

Regular Headaches

Following general pain, constant headaches are one of the most common first signs of Fibromyalgia. Around 2 out of every 5 people with Fibromyalgia report getting intense headaches and migraines regularly.¹ They could result from pain in the neck and upper back, but they could also stem from the tender points in your head.

Intense Fatigue and Sleep Problems

Fibromyalgia sufferers also experience a form of fatigue that far exceeds the norm. It is characterized by total exhaustion that can fully disrupt a person's ability to live a normal life. If you are constantly physically and mentally exhausted even after a long night of sleep, this could be a sign of Fibromyalgia.

first signs of fibromyalgia

FMS sufferers can also have insomnia-like issues. Pain, restless leg syndrome and mental stress can regularly interrupt sleep. Researchers have documented patterns in the Stage-4 deep sleep of Fibromyalgia patients. Individuals with FMS are interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity, limiting the amount of time they spend in deep sleep.² If exhaustion is an issue that affects your day-to-day life, talk to your doctor to see if your chronic fatigue could be a symptom of Fibromyalgia.

Cognitive Difficulties

Part of what makes FMS such a difficult condition to deal with is the combination of physical and mental effects. One very common sign of Fibromyalgia is an inability to think clearly and focus on mental tasks. This cognitive impairment is often referred to as "Fibro-fog". You may get easily distracted, easily forget or misplace things and have an increased difficulty interacting socially. If these mental difficulties occur alongside constant fatigue and pain, talk to your doctor about the possibility of a Fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Feelings of Depression and Anxiety

Fibromyalgia often appears alongside, or as a result of, depression and anxiety. People with Fibromyalgia are up to three times more likely to have depression at the time of their diagnosis than people without Fibromyalgia.³ These disorders can appear as a result of the constant pain of FMS. However, there is also the possibility that they can be an essential part of the disease. Many believe that Fibromyalgia is a physical symptom of depression. Learning more about the connection between depression and FMS can help you seek out treatment options that work for you.

first signs of fibromyalgia

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. WebMD: Fibromyalgia Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-symptoms#3
  2. National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association: Symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Retrieved from: https://www.fmcpaware.org/symptoms
  3. WebMD: Fibromyalgia and Depression. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-and-depression#1
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