The following 'text-book' symptoms of fibromyalgia are taken from NHS.uk followed by my (summarized!) thoughts on each.
There are a multitude of websites discussing fibromyalgia, all pretty much saying the same thing. I've used the NHS site as I feel they are the least likely of the 'big hitters' to get upset over any potential copyright issues.
If you have fibromyalgia, one of the main symptoms is likely to be widespread pain. This may be felt throughout your body, but could be worse in particular areas, such as your back or neck. The pain is likely to be continuous, although it may be better or more severe at different times.
Yep. Widespread pain. Different types. Differing areas. Continuous pain, shifting around the body causing a wide variety of symptoms far too numerous and varied to list.
Chronic bad back, abdominal pains, headaches, stiff neck, chondritis, hip pain, shin splints, knee and foot pains, always something ...
Fibromyalgia can make you extremely sensitive to pain all over your body, and you may find that even the slightest touch is painful. If you hurt yourself – such as stubbing your toe – the pain may continue for much longer than it normally would. You may hear the condition described in the following medical terms: Hyperalgesia – when you're extremely sensitive to pain. Allodynia – when you feel pain from something that shouldn't be painful at all, such as a very light touch. You may also be sensitive to things such as smoke, certain foods and bright lights. Being exposed to something you're sensitive to can cause your other fibromyalgia symptoms to flare up.
You are in pain, not just overly sensitive to pain. Pressure amplifies what is already there.
I was aware that I was sore to the touch, but I don't remember being any different and having nothing to compare it to, I thought it was 'normal'. A curiosity, rather than an abnormality.
Stiffness. Fibromyalgia can make you feel stiff. The stiffness may be most severe when you've been in the same position for a long period of time – for example, when you first wake up in the morning. It can also cause your muscles to spasm, which is when they contract (squeeze) tightly and painfully.
You are stiff, with a restricted range of movement.
'Seized up' was the norm for me, but I didn't appreciate how much movement I was missing until I regained it. Old injuries never released.
Without your main muscles of movement engaged, other areas of muscle must compensate, but become stressed and prone to spasm.
Feet, calves, hamstrings, back and neck. I've always experienced intense spasms. I was prone to 'stitches', but again I didn't know these were abnormal. They were just something that happened regularly from my early childhood.
Fatigue. Fibromyalgia can cause fatigue (extreme tiredness). This can range from a mild, tired feeling to the exhaustion often experienced during a flu-like illness. Severe fatigue may come on suddenly and can drain you of all your energy. If this happens, you may feel too tired to do anything at all.
A constant struggle with pain whilst awake. Poor sleep (see below) It's exhausting.
I felt lazy. My brain constantly active but feeling worse and worse about myself because I couldn't get around to doing all the things wanted to.
Poor sleep quality. Fibromyalgia can affect your sleep. You may often wake up tired, even when you've had plenty of sleep. This is because the condition can sometimes prevent you from sleeping deeply enough to refresh you properly. You may hear this described as "non-restorative sleep".
All this pain, no wonder you can't sleep properly.
I used to have vivid dreams and many nightmares. I did not sleep well - fidgeting, yelping in pain as I moved (using my arms on the headboard to roll myself over). 'Sleep' was preferable to being awake and depressed though.
Cognitive problems ('fibro-fog') Cognitive problems are issues related to mental processes, such as thinking and learning. If you have fibromyalgia, you may have: Trouble remembering and learning new things. Problems with attention and concentration. Slowed or confused speech.
Constant pain signals to your brain are distracting. It's hard to focus. It's hard to get the words out.
I would mumble when I felt too overwhelmed to speak clearly, then get so stressed I could only shout. It was impossible to control sometimes.. Trying to form my thoughts into words was so hard sometimes, being asked a question but unable to form a sentence to reply.
Headaches If fibromyalgia has caused you to experience pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders, you may also have frequent headaches. These can vary from being mild headaches to severe migraines, and could also involve other symptoms, such as nausea (feeling sick).
Tension everywhere, pulling on your face and epicranial aponeurosis over your skull. Aching jaw and facial muscles.
Sometimes like my head was in a vice if I moved it, even the slightest.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Some people with fibromyalgia also develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a common digestive condition that causes pain and bloating in your stomach. It can also lead to constipation or diarrhoea.
Tensions in your connective tissue system can cause symptoms everywhere. IBS = 'blanket diagnosis' with a wide range of signs and poorly understood causes.
My upper right abdominal pain was the worst. Every evening for years, curled up in pain but there were many other 'digestive' symptoms too, from the intense early morning lower abdominal pain (almost like clockwork) to sharp stabs that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Other symptoms that people with fibromyalgia sometimes experience include: Dizziness and clumsiness. Feeling too hot or too cold – this is because you're not able to regulate your body temperature properly. Restless legs syndrome (an overwhelming urge to move your legs) Tingling, numbness, prickling or burning sensations in your hands and feet (pins and needles, also known as paraesthesia). In women, unusually painful periods.
Dizziness and clumsiness.
I was always the clumsy one! Accident prone and uncoordinated.
Feeling too hot or too cold. Is there any proof it is a thermo-regulatory problem? Or is your brain overwhelmed by pain signals and can't tell what's going on?
Restless legs syndrome. Pains and spasms as the body tries to kick off some of the tension.
'Restless' is a very mild way of describing all the pains and sleep disturbance, waves of tension and spasms flowing through my legs at night.
Pains, spasms, aches, weird sensations all over.
Depression. In some cases, having the condition can lead to depression. This is because fibromyalgia can be difficult to deal with, and low levels of certain hormones associated with the condition can make you prone to developing depression. Depression can cause many symptoms, including: Constantly feeling low, feeling hopeless and helpless, losing interest in the things you usually enjoy. If you think you may be depressed, it's important to get help from your GP or your fibromyalgia healthcare professional, if you've been seeing one.
The pain is real, and very hard to cope with over the years. Your body is so over-burdened trying to function without the support of your main muscles of movement. Nothing ever seems to get better, no wonder it affects your mental health.
My depression evaporated one day as I stood up from a roll-down, like a blanket being lifted. I still had a lot of emotional issues and physical pains to work through, but that day was life-changing and I finally felt like there was hope that I could get better.
Fibromyalgia is a label for the pain, not a diagnosis of a condition that will one day be cured by a magic pill.
There are many more symptoms and clinical signs that I would associate with a physical imbalance and a misaligned body (to be expanded...)
A constant feedback to your brain.
Your body's restricted and in pain.
© Copyright Leigh Blyth BVM&S 2017-2020