Top 15 Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Updated: May 2
There are many different symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and it's not necessary to have every symptom listed below to have the syndrome.
What are the most common signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
1. CHRONIC MUSCLE PAIN
Muscles pain is the most characteristic symptom of Fibromyalgia. The pain is widespread; it's pain in almost all areas of the body. It's often described as throbbing, aching, or dull pain, although it can also be intense sharp pains. Fibromyalgia pain is usually felt in the muscles and soft tissue of the body and comes and goes with no specific pattern.
Chronic pain in the muscles can be associated with tightness in the muscles and muscle spasms, and it's often what causes someone with Fibromyalgia to seek medical attention in the first place.
2. TENDER POINTS ON THE BODY
Besides the intense muscle soreness and aching of the body, those with Fibromyalgia often have localized areas of the body, usually near joints, that are incredibly tender to the touch.
This pain is not associated with the joints themselves but with the soft tissue surrounding them, including the tendons and ligaments. The tender points are most often located near the skin’s surface.
3. MODERATE TO SEVERE FATIGUE
Fatigue is the second most common complaint in Fibromyalgia after pain symptoms. The fatigue or decreased energy levels tend to linger and be unassociated with the person's amount of rest or sleep.
Some people with Fibromyalgia say the fatigue reminds them of the type of fatigue experienced when they had the flu. Others say it feels like the fatigue is similar to that experienced when working too long after getting insufficient sleep.
The fatigue is worse when getting up in the morning. It can also occur after a minimum amount of activity, such as housecleaning or shopping for groceries.
4. INSOMNIA OR INABILITY TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP
People often feel just as tired upon waking as they did when going to bed. There may be difficulty getting to sleep in the first place associated with sleep that is easily disturbed, light, and uncomfortable.
Lack of sleep can contribute to the chronic fatigue the people living with Fibromyalgia often experience.
People with Fibromyalgia may not get an adequate amount of time in the deepest stages of sleep. Subsequently, the body doesn't rejuvenate itself without sufficient deep sleep, and the sufferer feels tired in the morning.
5. MUSCLE STIFFNESS
Muscle stiffness is experienced when waking from sleep or remaining in one position for an extended period. Research has shown that many people with Fibromyalgia feel stiff in the morning when they first get up.
The stiffness can include the arms, legs, and back, giving the sufferer the feeling that they need to loosen up their muscles before going about their regular daily activities. The stiffness may persist for only a few minutes after arising or can last up to twenty minutes after getting out of bed in the morning.
The type of stiffness experienced with Fibromyalgia differs from the minor aching and muscle stiffness many people feel after a restless night of sleep. Instead, it is stiffness that is typical of those who have inflammatory arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, which is challenging to treat.
6. FIBRO FOG
People living with Fibromyalgia can experience problems with memory, concentration, and the performance of basic mental tasks. This cognitive dysfunction is often referred to as having “fibro fog” and interferes with the fibromyalgia sufferer’s ability to be productive at work and disrupts their personal life.
Poor concentration and memory difficulties make it challenging to memorize various steps of a given task. Therefore, tasks can take longer to accomplish.
7. DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS
People with Fibromyalgia often report symptoms consistent with depression and anxiety. For example, Fibromyalgia pain resulting in less activity and increased social withdrawal may lead to depressive symptoms.
Depression, whether it predates the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia or occurs after, may be a part of the syndrome itself and may be related to brain changes common in the two conditions.
The same is valid with anxiety, which may be an actual part of Fibromyalgia itself. However, researchers aren’t sure whether or not the stress associated with constant fatigue and ongoing pain causes an anxiety state seen in Fibromyalgia.
8. SWELLING & TINGLING OF HANDS
People with Fibromyalgia often exhibit neurological complaints, including burning pain, tingling, and numbness of the hands. Unfortunately, no one knows the cause of these neurological complaints, even though they are prevalent in those with Fibromyalgia.
These sensations, known as paresthesia, seem to coincide when a person with Fibromyalgia experiences stiffness in the morning. However, some people have paresthesia symptoms lasting most of the day.
9. MIGRAINES & CHRONIC HEADACHES
People with Fibromyalgia are more prone to migraine or tension headaches than those who do not have Fibromyalgia. Up to 70 percent of all Fibromyalgia patients also complain of chronic headaches.
The headaches are often related to chronic pain in the upper back and the neck. This type of pain can lead to inflammation of the scalp muscles, which is the cause of tension headaches (muscle-contraction headaches).
There are also trigger points in the back of the head and neck, leading to muscle contraction headaches. Even though headaches are often associated with Fibromyalgia, any chronic headache condition should be assessed by a physician.
In addition, a physician can determine if the headaches are solely related to Fibromyalgia and not other medical conditions.
10. IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME SYMPTOMS
People with Fibromyalgia often experience irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, such as nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Some have constipation alternating with diarrhea, which is a typical symptom of irritable bowel syndrome.
These gastrointestinal symptoms are found in about 40-70 percent of fibromyalgia patients. They may also experience indigestion or acid reflux.
11. FACE & JAW TENDERNESS
People with Fibromyalgia can have pain in the temporomandibular joints or across the facial muscles. They may meet the criteria for having a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) along with the criteria for Fibromyalgia. Face and jaw tenderness may be associated with jaw tension and muscle pain in the head and neck.
12. OVERSENSITIVITY TO STIMULI
Those with Fibromyalgia may be oversensitive to certain odors, bright lights, loud noises, cold air, certain foods, or medications. In addition, they may be intolerant to another’s perfume or find themselves only comfortable in a warm, dark, and quiet place. These intolerances can limit participation in many areas of normal daily activities.
13. IRRITABLE BLADDER SYMPTOMS
Those with Fibromyalgia often find themselves with an increase in urinary frequency and urgency. They may feel they have a bladder infection when the standard tests used to diagnose bladder infections are negative for infection. They may also have difficulty getting to the restroom in time, leading to urinary urge incontinence.
Unfortunately, medications for urinary urge incontinence often exacerbate symptoms of constipation. Hence, these medications are usually not prescribed to people with Fibromyalgia who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
14. SYMPTOMS OF RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME
Restless legs syndrome is a condition where the legs feel very uncomfortable and only experience relief of these symptoms when the legs are moved or shaken. As a result, the individual ends up tossing and turning at night because keeping the legs still is an intolerable feeling.
In addition, restless legs can exacerbate the insomnia symptoms typical in those who have Fibromyalgia.
15. DECREASED TOLERANCE FOR EXERCISE
People with Fibromyalgia often do not tolerate exercise well; most sufferers report increased muscle pain following training. Exercise can help manage Fibromyalgia symptoms but can be challenging for most sufferers to get motivated to start an exercise program.
Most commonly, this is due to the fear that an added exercise will aggravate their symptoms, particularly fatigue and muscle pain. Therefore, low-impact exercises done in short bursts are often recommended best for the treatment of Fibromyalgia.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of Fibromyalgia tend to fluctuate according to various internal and external conditions. As a result, Fibromyalgia symptoms can be different throughout the day. However, symptoms seem to be worse:
Shortly after getting out of bed in the morning
In the late afternoon period and the evening.
Under conditions of increased fatigue, stress, and tension.
During colder temperatures.
With hormonal changes.
When experiencing anxiety and depression.