Do I Have Fibromyalgia? – Signs and Symptoms You Should Know

Many people are still unaware of some the many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Others may feel they have every symptom in the book. The problem is, many of the symptoms associated with FMS are fairly general, common and not specific to this disorder, and therefor can easily be attributed to something different.

This is one of the main reason why this disorder is often miss-diagnosed or can often go undiagnosed for many years. Is it any wonder why many people ask “do I have fibromyalgia?” But before we address that question, lets take a quick look at what fibromyalgia is.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

If you looked up the root Latin word for fibromyalgia, (“pronounced “fie-bro-my-al-jia”) it actually translates to “condition of connective tissue fibers and muscle pain.”

“Fibro” (Connective tissue fibers)
“My” (Muscle)
“Al” (Pain)
“Gia” (Condition of)

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome (not a disease) caused by abnormalities in how the brain processes pain. The result is a heightened response to pain when pressure is applied and an overall feeling of pain throughout the body. It is often referred to as a chronic pain condition.

Although neither progressive, degenerative or dangerous, the symptoms associated with FMS can be extremely challenging to live with. The frustrating symptoms characteristic of fibromyalgia are experienced by approximately 10-11 million Americans and up to 8% of the population. Twice as many women are effected than men. The exact cause of the disorder is unknown and as you may have guessed there is still no known cure.

Common Symptoms

Because the onset of symptoms are so gradual, many patients who suffer from FMS have a hard time pinpointing the single factor that started their condition. While fibromyalgia is usually characterized by widespread pain throughout the body, there are other symptoms to watch out for.

Cognitive Function Memory loss. Memory loss, affecting both short and long term memory, diminished attention span and problems concentrating are often reported. Many will also experience “brain fog” or “fibro fog” as it is sometimes referred to. About 58% of fibromyalgia patents also suffer from migraine and non-migraine headaches.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms.

Depression. Depression, which is classified as a mental disorder could be a symptom of fibromyalgia. This can affect a person self-esteem, cause mood swings or severely low moods and can even cause physical pain. Individuals may feel isolated, lonely, sad, sluggish and lose interest in hobbies they once found enjoyable.

Restless Leg Syndrome. This is often characterized by an unpleasant and uncomfortable feeling in the legs. It is also sometimes described as a painful, tingling or aching sensation. Moving the legs seems to temporarily relive the discomfort, hence the name restless leg syndrome. Although less common, some experience these sensations in their arms as well.

Fatigue. Almost all fibromyalgia patients report extreme fatigue and a loss of energy. This is sometimes severe enough to affect a person ability to person normal day to day activities. Quality of sleep is also affected and the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, fibromyalgia patients receive a night. For this reason, allowing yourself the right amount of time at night to get enough deep restorative sleep is a must for those who have fibromyalgia.

Other Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Other very common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • Aches and pain
  • Increased menstrual pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Multiple tender points
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiffness, pain and numbness
  • Anxiety

Unfortunately many individuals living with fibromyalgia also suffer from other pain based medical conditions, including:

  • Intestinal cystitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Heartburn
  • Benign joint hyper mobility syndrome

What Is The Diagnosis? – Do I Have Fibromyalgia?

While that is an important question, I’m afraid the answer may not be so simple. As stated before, it is very difficult to determine if these or some of these symptoms are in fact related to fibromyalgia syndrome. Even physicians have a difficult time diagnosing this disorder. There is no specific routine test for diagnosing fibromyalgia and many people have lab tests come back completely negative.

In 1990 criteria to define fibromyalgia were established by the America College of Rheumatology. It states that for a proper diagnosis, one must have had widespread musculoskeletal pain for longer than three consecutive months, along with pain in at least 11 of the 18 tender point sites. Tender point sites include the base of the neck, upper chest, upper back, shoulders and hips. In the end, these, and the symptoms mentioned above will be the determining factors of whether you have fibromyalgia.

Be aware that the term “tender points” is often confused with the term “trigger points” and vise versa. Trigger points radiate pain tingling or numbness. Tender points also respond to pressure but do not refer pain to other areas of the body. Still, many people with fibromyalgia experience pain at different locations of the body as well as these tender point sites. On the other hand there are many who experience pain at some or most of these sites, but do not have fibromyalgia.

What Can I Do About It?

Fibromyalgia is still considered a fairly new condition and many more studies and a lot more research have to be done. The chronic pain and other uncomfortable symptoms are very real, and while there is no cure, treatments to help manage these symptoms do exist.

If you have FMS, regular exercise has been shown to help lessen pain, improve sleep, reduce stress and symptoms of depression. For many, physical activity has also helped with cognitive function and memory problems. Aerobic exercise and exercises that focus on stress reduction and a mind-body connection like yoga and ti chi have been reported to be very beneficial.

Swimming, a great low impact fibromyalgia exercise.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as meditation can also be wonderful tools in reducing stress and anxiety. Allow for a minimum of 8 consecutive hours of sleep and be aware of good sleep hygiene practices. Many individuals who are living with fibromyalgia improve their symptoms when they eat more nutritious foods or follow a specific “fibromyalgia diet.”

It Is Always Better To Know

If you think you or a loved one may have fibromyalgia, the first step is to talk to your doctor. Many people don’t understand what fibromyalgia sufferers go through or much about the disorder in general. Some are afraid to ask the dreaded question “do I have fibromyalgia?” Perhaps because they are afraid that their doctor may end up giving them a positive diagnosis. Please don’t let this be you.

An estimated 75% of those who suffer with this disorder, go undiagnosed. There are plenty of great resources and a lot of help out there and no one should have to suffer in silence. So, while it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, I believe It is definitely better to know the answer.

12 thoughts on “Do I Have Fibromyalgia? – Signs and Symptoms You Should Know

  1. Darren

    I have a few friends who suffer with fibromyalgia so I can fully relate to the restrictions this condition can put on peoples lifestyles.

    I know it is hard to diagnose as the symptoms can be cloaked as other conditions.  Thanks to your posts and many others it can only raise awareness. 

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Hello, Darren,

      I also have a few friends that have fibromyalgia as well as family and it definitely can be restrictive in many ways. I hope we can raise awareness for this, I believe it’s far too important an issue to ignore. 

      Thank for the comment!

      Reply
  2. Autofreak

    I think the number one problem of this syndrome is the fact that it is difficult to diagnose and doesn’t have a known cure yet. When something is this difficult, even the patients cannot even trust the health practitioners enough that they would be able to carry out proper diagnosis and prognosis. Nevertheless, I still feel that people are not sensitize enough about the symptoms and possible management.

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Yes! I totally agree with that. 

      We need a better understanding of fibromyalgia for sure. It is so important for individuals to get a proper diagnosis and not always easy to obtain. That’s why I want to help spread the word.

      Thanks so much for your interest! 

      Reply
  3. Louis

    Fibromyalgia is a disorder that I’m not aware of. It really seems this disorder will go unnoticed because it has a lot of common symptoms. A lot of people would think they’re depressed or just having bad memory.

    Its a good thing I exercise and get a good number of sleep, I can say I’ll probably not have such disorder. Thanks for Sharing, I know a lot of people would find this helpful.

    Warm regards

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Hi Louis,

      Yes you are right, this is a disorder that many do not fully understand yet. As a result, so many go undiagnosed and because of the somewhat common symptoms. Although difficult for many, I agree that sleep is very important and so is exercise. 

      Thank you so much for the kind words!

      Reply
  4. marlasmith

    Very interesting article.  My mother has suffered with fibromyalgia for many years.  It has come and gone.  I wasn’t aware that migranes are also associated with fibromyalgia.  She recently has had several severe migranes that has really knocked her down.  I will have to pass this along to her.  Do you know what the recommended treatment would be for fibromyalgia is?  Are their any natural products that can at least help reduce the symptoms?  Is there anything to do to help prevent ever getting fibromyalgia?

    I appreciate the information.

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Thank you!

      My mother has also been suffering from fibromyalgia for many years now, so it’s something that is very close to home for me. migraine headaches can also be associated with fibromyalgia for sure. 

      Unfortunately as of right now, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia and those that have it, have it for life. It is not likely to get worse or cause permanent damage to muscles or tendons, however and there are many different treatment options out there.

       Many people who suffer with this disorder report being symptom-free or almost symptom-free after making some positive changes in their diets and after beginning an exercise routine. 

      There is strong evidence that fibromyalgia is hereditary, and no way to actually prevent it. Still, I believe that the healthier a person is in general, the less likely they are be become ill or injured. Healthy whole foods, exercise and enough sleep are always a good start.

      If your mother is interested in finding natural ways to manage the pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia, please view this other post Natural Fibromyalgia Pain Relief  I hope it helps. And as always, if you or your mother have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! 

      Thank you so much for the comment and best of health to you both!

      Reply
  5. Taetske

    Good evening Michelle,

    How awful to have a chronic pain condition. I am 68 and very grateful to be healthy. Some doctors suggest taking 3 spoons full of coconut oil a day. It seems to also help with Alzheimer’s. For better sleep, it is absolutely necessary to make the bedroom as dark as possible. A supplement of Melatonin 20mg would be a good idea.

    The closer we are to nature and eating natural foods the better our health will be.

    Regards, Taetske

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Hello, 

      Yes, I am actually going to be posting on the benefits of coconut oil very soon, It is such a great natural supplement that I feel It deserves an entire article dedicated to it. I will also be discussing the importance of sleep and ways to improve sleep in a future post. 

      The supplement melatonin is absolutely a great idea, as well as a dark sleep environment. Our body is better able to produce melatonin naturally when it’s dark and melatonin production is inhibited by light. It is always best to allow your surroundings to gradually become darker, then sleep in a dark room. An eye mask can also help with this.

      I believe your right about natural whole foods. Eating right is so important for anybody, but particularly those who have fibromyalgia. Many people are managing their symptoms very well through diet and exercise.

      Thank you for the great comments! 

      Reply
  6. charles39

    This new medical terminology to me and for sure I have to admit that although the condition is relatively new it needs to identified as early as possible although you have said that is not that simple either then the only way out prevented is trying to all things that might read to stress and depression sleep well and enjoy some yoga or ti chi then we eliminate the problem know the question is how do we let people know of his  I mean education of the masses so that everyone should know.

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Hi Charles,

      I agree that we do need more information out there! The only way we can accomplish this, is to talk more about it and share with people around the world. I will be starting a facebook page soon dedicated to fibromyalgia and I will continue to post information…the research never ends. Hopefully some day this will lead to a cure.

      Thanks for the comment! 

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Autofreak Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *