Fibromyalgia: Symptoms

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that leads to widespread pain, fatigue and depression. The causes are unknown, and it is also difficult to diagnose because there are no tests available for it. Some people display mild symptoms while others are affected more intensely. The way to diagnose fibromyalgia is by keeping a track of the symptoms and the patient’s history. Some symptoms are commonly displayed while others are not so general.

What are the common symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Pain. The most common symptom of fibromyalgia is pain. It is usually spread all over the body and also present in certain tender points. The tender points are: inside of the knees, around the hips, outside the elbows, top of the chest, front of neck, between shoulders, back of the head.

Numbness or tingling. Fibromyalgia also causes neurological symptoms like numbness, tingling or burning. The sensations can amplify with poor sleep.

Sleep problems. Another typical indication of fibromyalgia is constantly feeling like you are unable to sleep well. Your sleep may be disturbed, or you may sleep but wake up feeling tired.

Fatigue. The sleep problems lead to excessive fatigue. For some, fatigue is more upsetting than the pain. Tiredness and sleep issues are most common in patients with fibromyalgia.

Depression and Mood Issues. About one third of fibromyalgia patients have depression. Issues with mood and concentration are also very universal. Mood conditions frequently go undiagnosed.

Allodynia. Allodynia is a keen sensitivity to touch, which results in pain. A simple rub on the shoulders or a pat on the back may sound regular. But for someone with allodynia, these can result in excruciating pain. Allodynia can also occur with a lack of sleep and increased tension.

Sensitivity to strong scents. This is connected to allodynia. If your response to light, sound, and smell is heightened, you may become annoyed or deal with pain. When there are a lot of different signals coming into the body, it takes a lot to understand and identify signals. Because understanding signals becomes harder, our bodies become sensitive to everything.

Some other common symptoms:

Morning stiffness

Irritable bowel syndrome


Tension and migraine headaches

Impact on women

Women are twice as likely to have fibromyalgia as men. 90 percent of people who get diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women.

The intensity of pain due to fibromyalgia is higher in women. The reasons for this include hormones, immune system contrasts or genes.

Fibromyalgia symptoms may also be worse for post-menopausal women.           

How not to misunderstand fibromyalgia

Myth: It’s all in your head.

Fact: Because women’s pain is often not taken seriously and not considered real, many are either not diagnosed or go misdiagnosed. Fortunately, studies and research is gradually indeed establishing that fibromyalgia is all too real and not a figment of imagination.   

Myth: Fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Fact: Sometimes a misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia happens. It is important to note that fibromyalgia is not associated with a person's having arthritis or some type of tissue damage. Fibromyalgia is not an arthritic condition because it doesn’t cause inflammation or joint damage.

Myth: You’re just tired.

Fact: Fatigue is a disabling, unrelenting, and obstinate symptom of fibromyalgia. Fatigue doesn’t occur on its own, but is related to other symptoms — and that the symptoms influence one another.

Fact is that there are no lab tests to diagnose fibromyalgia. All we can do is monitor the symptoms and the patient’s history. Hence it is important not to confuse fibromyalgia with other diseases and conditions that have similar symptoms.


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Neha Ramneek Kapoor

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