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Fibromyalgia Symptoms

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There are no less than thirty- nine signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome encompassing the body, mind, and emotions.

Fibromyalgia, or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), is a chronic medical condition that could be possibly summed up in two words: “pain everywhere.”

Fibromyalgia sufferers endure daily a level of pain so intense that it hurts to be touched. This constant battle with pain results in a long cascade of accompanying symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia.

Because the complex signs and symptoms are not just related to pain, the simple terms “fibro-, ” meaning fiber or fibrous tissue, and “myalgia,” meaning non-specific muscle pain, only describe a portion of the entire fibromyalgia picture.

Both the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Rheumatology recognize fibromyalgia as a complex disease that involves the physical body, brain chemistry, mental function, and psycho-emotional health.

Despite this recognition, many medical doctors still refuse to treat fibromyalgia because they cannot find anything clinically wrong with the patient during the physical examination.

The American College of Rheumatology estimates that from 2-4% of the adult population in the world has fibromyalgia. Of these, women experience fibromyalgia signs and symptoms more than men in a nine to one ratio.

What are the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Web MD lists the following thirty- nine signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia. Not every person experiencing fibromyalgia will manifest every symptom. However, the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:


Muscle-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Constant or chronic pain in muscles all over the body, especially in the shoulders, neck, lower back, and hips
Muscle spasms or cramps, including heart palpitations
Tight muscles
Muscle and joint stiffness upon waking or after sitting in one place for an extended period of time
Muscle aches and tenderness in the face, particularly the jaw
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
Poor recovery after exercise, or avoiding exercise altogether due to pain
Muscle weakness in the arms or legs


Energy-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Moderate to severely debilitating fatigue
Complete lack of energy, feeling “wiped out” most of the time
Insomnia due to constant pain at night
Feeling exhausted, even after a decent night’s sleep
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels


Mental Concentration Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Brain fog often referred to as “fibro fog”
Difficulty remembering simple things
Difficulty concentrating
Difficulty with mental math or other simple mental tasks; “can’t think”
Short or long term memory loss
Inability to multitask
Attention deficit disorder


Gastrointestinal Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Abdominal pain
Alternating between diarrhea and constipation


Neurological Symptoms Related to Fibromyalgia
Numbness or tingling sensations in the face, hands, feet, arms, or legs
Feeling as if the hands or feet are swelling, but without evidence of edema
The high sensitivity of any of the following: bright lights, noise, cold temperatures, certain odors or foods
Urinary urgency- feeling as if the bladder constantly needs to be emptied
Migraine headaches
Tension headaches


Psychological Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Anxiety and panic
Chronic clinical depression
Post-traumatic stress disorder


Hormonal- Endocrine Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Adrenal gland dysfunction
Pituitary gland dysfunction
Thyroid gland dysfunction
Low insulin levels
Growth hormone dysfunction in some cases


In 2007, researchers in the Department of Medicine at Soroka Medica Center in Beer Sheva, Israel linked fibromyalgia to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and stated the two medical conditions shared very common signs and symptoms.

The researchers recommended that anyone treating patients with fibromyalgia must address not only the physical symptoms of the disease but the emotional signs, as well.

A medical study published in The Neuroscientist in 2008 showed that the brains in fibromyalgia patients show alterations in brain chemistry and structure.

There is strong evidence that fibromyalgia sufferers perceive common stimuli such as noise levels, odors, and normal pain thresholds completely differently than healthy individuals.

The neurotransmitters, the parts of the cell which transmit signals to the brain, send very low- level messages to the brain for peace, safety, happiness, and a sense of calm. These neurotransmitters also send very high levels of pain messages to the brain.

This particular study suggested that alterations in the brain seen in fibromyalgia did not originate in the brain.

Instead, scientists believe that fibromyalgia is due to psychological trauma that occurred either during childhood or either prolonged or severe stress during adulthood.

Primary signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia

Not ever getting a good night’s rest

One of the primary signs of fibromyalgia is not getting enough sleep at night.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests have shown that fibromyalgia sufferers do not get enough “deep sleep,” where the brain emits slow delta wave patterns. Without “delta” sleep, a person never wakes up feeling refreshed.

“Wound up”

Although fibromyalgia patients complain of widespread pain, doctors cannot find a source of the pain on medical examination. This often causes doctors and uninformed loved ones to state that the disease is “all in the head.”

Actually, there are central nervous system abnormalities present in the body and brains of people with fibromyalgia.

Every person experiences a feeling of anxiety and tension when he knows he is about to experience pain. This anticipation, fear, or “flinching” is called “wind up.”

In a fibromyalgia patient, “wind up” goes to extreme levels. Then when the fibromyalgia patient does feel the pain, he experiences the pain in his mind twice to three times the intensity of a healthy person.

Endocrine system dysfunction

Problems with low blood sugar levels, adrenal fatigue, thyroid malfunction, and other issues with the endocrine system may all be fibromyalgia symptoms.

Scientists in the Department of Rheumatology at the University of Giessen in Bad Nauheim, Germany believe these symptoms are due to long-term chronic stress.

The “fight or flight” signal is left “on” constantly, which disrupts the normal function of the pituitary and adrenal glands. This eventually inhibits the normal function of other glands and hormones.

Hyperactive nervous system

Another definitive sign of fibromyalgia is a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. The adrenals are so fatigued from hyperactivity that they barely respond to stressors like physical exercise and mental stress.

Although physically exhausted, people with fibromyalgia have a difficult time “turning their brains off” at night.

Abnormalities in cerebrospinal fluid

When a sample of spinal fluid is taken from patients with fibromyalgia, a very common result is low levels of the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and high levels of endorphins and enkephalins.

Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are neurotransmitters. Low levels of these neurotransmitters are indicative of major depression. Included in the clinical picture of depression are feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.

The “fibro fog,” insomnia, and severe fatigue experienced in fibromyalgia are all related to the lower levels of these three neurotransmitters.

There are also increases in excitatory amino acids, which show up in the body as pain signals.

Abnormalities in the brain

Brain images of patients with fibromyalgia have shown decreased blood flow to the brain, abnormal responses to pain, abnormal levels of neurotransmitters, and acceleration and progression of brain atrophy. The brain in a person with fibromyalgia ages faster and grows smaller at ten times the rate of a healthy individual.


Web MD.com, “Symptoms of Fibromyalgia”

Free Dictionary.com, “Fibro-”

Free Dictionary.com, “Myalgia”

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