This article was written by Julie Hambleton, fitness and nutrition expert and co-founder of The Taste Archives.
In America, between three and six million people, or one in every fifty, suffer from Fibromyalgia, a syndrome characterized by debilitating pain experienced all over the body with no obvious cause. Though often people do improve over time, it is often something that they will have to deal with for their entire lives. (1)
If you have chronic muscle pain however, it does not necessarily mean that you have fibromyalgia. If you’re worried that you could have fibromyalgia, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many other symptoms that accompany muscle pain. Take a look at the signs and symptoms below to get a better understanding. (1)
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
If you find your muscles aching on a constant basis with no obvious external causes, have a read through this list of symptoms to help you determine whether you could have fibromyalgia
It is unlikely that all the symptoms will match, but if the majority of them resonate with you, then take your concerns to your doctor who will be able to first rule out all other causes. (2)
Muscle and Body Tissues
- Muscle Twitching
- Morning stiffness
- Mild to severe pain that may move around to different parts of the body
- Tender and lumpy breasts (Fibrocystic breasts, as an overlapping condition)
- Grinding teeth
- Muscle twitching even while sleeping
- Having the sensation of falling while sleeping (“Sleep Starts”)
- Difficulty sleeping/broken sleeping pattern, leaving you feeling tired and lethargic each morning as opposed to refreshed.
Allergy and Sinus Issues
- Ringing ears
- Thick mucus
- Itchy ears and earaches
- Runny nose and post nasal drip
- Allergies, sensitivity to molds and yeasts
- Shortness of breath
Stomach and Digestion Problems
- Bloating, nausea, abdominal cramps, and pelvic pain
- Frequent urination (always need to pee, get up every night, often more than once)
Sensory Problems and Sensitivity
- Sensitive to smells, light, noise, temperature, pressure, and climate changes.
- Difficulty with night driving and seeing in low lighting
- Poor coordination and balance
- Directional difficulties and recognizing familiar surroundings
- Zone out often, difficulty with concentration, short term memory, and differentiating between certain shades of color.
- Burning or tingling in the upper limbs
- Language impairments and difficulty speaking familiar words
- Loss of libido
- PMS and other menstrual problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Valve problems
- Heart attack-like pain
Hair, Skin, and Nails
- Overly-ridged nails or nails that curve under
- Skin that bruises or scars easily or appears mottled
- Hair loss
Mental Health Symptoms
- Anxiety, depression, panic attacks
- Mood swings and unexplained irritability
- Family history
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Carbohydrate and chocolate cravings
- Headaches and migraines
- Vision changes
- The sweats
Remember that all of these signs and symptoms are nonspecific, meaning that they can be caused by or signify another condition, or they could be coincidental and not mean anything at all. For example, just because you experience PMS, are occasionally moody, have cravings, or experience migraines, does not mean that you have fibromyalgia. Again, speak with your doctor before jumping to any conclusions. (1, 2, 3)
How is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia can be mistaken for other conditions, and there are no specific tests that can give a one hundred percent certain diagnoses, making it difficult to diagnose at all. (3)
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First of all, you have to meet specific criteria set by The American College of Rheumatology to receive a fibromyalgia diagnosis. These criteria are (3):
- Widespread pain that has been present for at least 3 months in all four quadrants of the body
- 11 out of 18 tender points, with pain felt when palpated on those points
- Negative findings for any other diseases on any of the diagnostic tests performed
Because there is not one test that can determine whether or not someone has fibromyalgia, doctors use a combination of diagnostic tests to help rule out other conditions and make a stronger case for the disease. Tests you can expect to undergo are (3):
- Complete blood count
- Rheumatoid factor
- Antinuclear Antibody (ANA)
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Thyroid tests
To read more on Fibromyalgia, what it is caused by and ways to treat it and relieve your pain, follow these links:
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