By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Fibromyalgia comprises of an array of symptoms thus the condition is termed fibromyalgia syndrome.
The most persistent and common symptom present is pain. This may be present over the tender or trigger points or may be present all over the body.
The symptoms range in severity from being mild to severely debilitating. The pain is usually no relenting and may persist to some degree for life.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia may be outlined as:-
The pain persists to a certain degree in patients with fibromyalgia. There may be variations in the pain severity with stress, weather changes as well as physical activity.
Most patients complain of a wide spread pain that affects nearly all of the body. This pain may be felt throughout the body but is particular in certain areas like the back or neck.
The pain may be felt as a dull ache, a sharp shooting pain or as a burning sensation over the skin.
Increased pain sensitivity and reduced pain threshold
Patients with fibromyalgia may find they are increasingly sensitive to pain and impacts that are not normally painful become so. For example, even a touch may become painful in some patients. This is called allodynia or perception of pain when there is no painful stimulus.
In addition the pain after a minor trauma may persist longer than usual. This is called hyperalgesia. Hyperalgesia also means increased pain sensation than normal.
Patients with fibromyalgia are also sensitive to other stimuli like loud sounds, bright lights, smoke, certain foods etc. Some patients may have increased sensitivity to temperature feeling too hot or too cold.
Muscle and joint stiffness
With pain there is associated muscle and joint stiffness. The stiffness is usually worse in the mornings after a night of rest. Some patients experience muscles spasms due to fibromyalgia that may aggravate muscle pain.
A large majority of patients with fibromyalgia complain of unexplained and extreme fatigue.
Sleep problems and difficulty in falling and remaining asleep is common both as symptom of the disease as well as due to the pain.
Some patients with fibromyalgia may experience what is called a fibro-fog or cognitive disturbances and memory loss. There may be problems in learning, attention span, concentration as well as confusion and slowed speech.
Migraines and other headaches may be exacerbated.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome may develop or may worsen in patients with fibromyalgia.
Restless legs syndrome
In this condition the patients feels the need to move their legs uncontrollably. This hampers sleep and daily activities.
Sensations in the fingers and toes
Tingling, numbness along with prickling, or burning sensations in the fingers and toes as well as palms of hands and soles of the feet.
Painful and heavy periods and risk of infertility.
Tinnitus or hearing a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears.
Other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia include depression and anxiety, jaw bone stiffness or temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Jul 31, 2013