Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is strictly that; information. I am putting out this blog to share my experiences and knowledge that I have gained while researching my own health care conditions. I am not a doctor. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a doctor who is familiar with your condition. If you feel that you have some of these symptoms, or any other symptoms for that matter, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN FOR ADVICE AND FOLLOW UP.
Today, I will be focusing on the signs and symptoms of Fibromyalgia. While I won’t be getting into Endometriosis right now, it is important to note that there is co-morbidity between Fibromyalgia and Endometriosis: Meaning that many women who have Fibromyalgia, also suffer from Endometriosis. Many women, me being one, have started our journeys with undiagnosed pelvic pain. I will get more into detail on the symptoms of Endometriosis in a future blog.
Fibromyalgia is not a new disorder. It has been around since Biblical days. According to the article “History of Fibromyalgia” by Karen Lee Richards at the website HealthCentral.com, the earliest description of Fibro can be found in the book of Job 7:3-4 and 30:16-17. A quote from Richards’ HealthCentral article states “I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery. When I go to bed, I think, `When will it be morning?' But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn…And now my heart is broken. Depression haunts my days. My weary nights are filled with pain as though something were relentlessly gnawing at my bones.” (Job 7:3-4 and 30:16-17 - NLT)” (p. 1) Doesn’t that sound like what some of us are going through?!
According to Richards (p. 2) the term Fibromyalgia was first known as fibrositis in 1904, named by Sir William Gowers. Fibrositis means inflammation of fibers. The term held up until 1976, when it was given its current name: Fibromyalgia. The reason for the term change is that no doctors could actually find inflammation, making the previous term incorrect. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles and tissues.
In the book “Living Well with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia” by author Mary J. Shomon, some of the most common symptoms of Fibromyalgia are (this list is by no means complete, there is an exhaustive list of Fibro symptoms):
v Widespread body pain for at least three months. The pain should be bilateral (on both sides of the body) and upper and lower body pain. Pain at the cervical spine, anterior chest, and lower back must also be present.
Pain at 11 out of 18 tender points must be present when pressure is applied to the area. See picture below.
Fibromyalgia pain can be explained in many ways; Burning, cramping, sharp, pressure, aching, soreness, stabbing, and stiffness to name a few.
Persons with Fibromyalgia may experience recurrent tension and migraine headaches. We may have muscle stiffness and cramping. We may also have fatigue, extreme exhaustion, and the feeling that our body is going through a flu-like illness. These feelings are not relieved by rest. Stressful events, physical and/or mental can also exacerbate our fatigue/exhaustion.
Persons with Fibromyalgia may also suffer, as Shomon explains on page 70 of her book, with what some call post-exertional malaise. This literally means that after a period of physical activity, we can become physically sick. We can experience muscle pain, fatigue, and exhaustion after exertion. This feeling may last for 24 hours or more.
Fibromites (as some chose to call those diagnosed with fibromyalgia) can also experience sleep difficulties. Personally, I have terrible insomnia, which makes my fatigue that much worse. We can also experience, as quoted by Shomon:
v Morning fog
v Sleep apnea- (our breathing stopping while we sleep)
v Sleep myoclonus-nighttime jerking, jumping, and spasming of arms and legs (me, me!!!)
v Restless leg syndrome
v Unrefreshing sleep
v Frequent waking during the night
v Trouble falling back to sleep
v Night sweats
v Frequent nighttime urination
v Early waking
There are many other important symptoms to look for, such as vaginal pain, depression and anxiety, skin tenderness, and cognitive difficulties such as memory loss, impaired attention span, difficulty concentrating (brain fog) and an impaired ability to learn new information. I would recommend reading the book pictured below, which is where much of this information was received.
Richards, K.L. (3/16/2009). History of fibromyalgia. Retrieved from http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/fibromyalgia-287647-5_2.html
Shomon, M.J. (2004), Living Well With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishing Inc.