By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Fibromyalgia is a condition with widespread debilitating pain. It is present in around 0.5-10% of the worldwide population with a seven times higher presence among females than males.
Apart from pain there are symptoms of fatigue, sleep disorders, stiffness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, memory or concentration problems etc. Due to the wide range of symptoms affecting the patients, the condition is often termed as fibromyalgia syndrome. The characteristic feature of this condition is the pain.
Types of fibromyalgia
The condition is not formally classified based on any criteria. Some camps however classify fibromyalgia based on the type and intensity of the pain.
The fibromyalgia pain is accompanied by a high degree of impairment in the patients in performing their daily functioning. Fibromyalgia patients report a poorer quality of life compared to other chronic pain patients.
Types of fibromyalgia pain include:-
Hyperalgesia – This is typical pain amplification seen in fibromyalgia where the pain felt is much larger than the stimulus.
Paresthesia – In this the nerves are automatically stimulated and the patient may feel a crawling, tingling, and burning, itching or numbing sensation over the area. Paresthesia may also be painful.
Allodynia – In this symptom even a mild touch or pressure from clothing or gentle massage leads to intense pain. Allodynia may be tactile or caused by pain from touch or gentle pressure. Allodynia may be mechanical or caused by something moving over the skin. Allodynia may also be thermal in which the pain from mild heat or cold is felt intensely.
Other types of pain include stabbing pain or burning pain, randomly moving and ill defined pain etc. Pain or symptoms may also be brought upon by stimulus like repetitive, loud, grating sounds, flashing or bright lights, stress etc. These may be the triggers that stimulate and bring on the pain.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)