Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread chronic pain that persists for at least three months and may be accentuated at tender points. This is often accompanied by chronic fatigue and frequent sleep disturbances (Mease 2008). In addition to this triad of symptoms, other common indicators of fibromyalgia include tenderness, stiffness, mood disturbances (e.g., depression and/or anxiety), and cognitive difficulties (e.g., trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and disorganized thinking) (Arnold 2011). Migraine and tension headaches are also present in more than half of individuals with fibromyalgia (Marcus 2005). Many of those suffering from this chronic condition experience a variety of other unexplained symptoms such as (Nordqvist 2012; Goldenberg 2004; Rico-Villademoros 2012):
- Irritable bowel sensations
- Pelvic and urinary problems
- Weight fluctuations
- Sexual dysfunction
- Cognitive dysfunction
Although these symptoms often come and go spontaneously, they are usually intense enough to impair daily function (Arnold 2008).
Since each individual diagnosed with fibromyalgia is affected differently, their experience(s) will vary. For example, fibromyalgia pain has been described as deep muscular aching, soreness, stiffness, burning, or throbbing. People with fibromyalgia may also experience numbness, tingling, or strange "crawling" sensations in their arms and legs (Goldenberg 2011).These painful sensations are typically described as “widespread” – meaning they originate above and below the waist, on both sides of the body, as well as in the spine and lower back (Wolfe 2010).