The chronic pain experienced by people with fibromyalgia is frustrating. The never-ending aches, painful tender points, sleepless nights, headaches, daytime fatigue, and inability to participate in normal activities can get to a person. One of the difficulties with fibromyalgia is describing the pain. Those of us with fibromyalgia experience several kinds of pain.
Fibromyalgia pain makes it very hard to be active or to sleep. For many, the muscles feel as if you have run a marathon. Sometimes, muscles will twitch. There are also times when muscles will burn, and you will experience a severe ache along with deep stabbing pain. Sometimes, the medications people take seem to do nothing.
Only a few of the many pain types have medical names and definitions. But following are ways to describe the pain, based on my own experience and research, and on conversations with fibro patients in our support group, at our Annual Awareness Conferences, and via phone and email.
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia Pain Include:
- Paresthesia – numbness, tingling, pins and needles sensation
- Allodynia – painful response to light touch that normally would not cause pain
- Hyperalgesia – increased pain response to an ordinarly mild stimulus
- Knife in the Voodoo Doll – an intense stabbing pain that seems to cut through your body
- Randomly Roving Pain – pain that migrates around the body
- Sparkler Burns – tiny pinpricks of pain that when scratched triggers palpable allodynia
- Rattled Nerves – ache all over with nausea, dizziness, and anxiety
Sometimes, explaining to your doctor how you feel in medical terms can help them determine how to help you ease your symptoms. The following medical terms will help you communicate with your doctors.
- Paresthesia is an are odd nerve sensation that feels like crawling, tingling, burning, itching or numbness. Sometimes, these sensations can be painful. Paresthesia is also associated with peripheral neuropathy, chemotherapy drugs, multiple sclerosis, and migraine. Some people also have good luck with vitamin B12, capsaicin cream, massage, and acupuncture.
- Allodynia is when your skin is painful when touched. Even mild pressure from clothing or a gentle massage hurts. Some people say it feels like a sunburn. Other than Fibromyalgia, allodynia is a rare type of pain, only associated with a handful of conditions, including neuropathy, shingles, and migraine. Some people get relief from topical pain creams (Jaxzens, Tiger Balm, Aspercreme, BioFreeze). If you have allodynia, massage therapy may make it worse.
- Hyperalgesia is the medical term for amplified pain. For example, you stub your toe, and it hurts for three days, instead of a few minutes. Most of the drugs (such as analgesics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants) used for managing fibromyalgia pain are aimed at, least in part, reducing hyperalgesia.
Other Types of Pain
These are not medical names, but people with Fibromyalgia know what they are.
Knife in the Voodoo Doll Pain is an intense stabbing pain that is often located in the chest or abdoman but can occur anywhere in the body. It can be so severe that it can double you over and make it hurt to breathe. It usually goes away as after a few minutes.
Randomly Roving Pain as the label implies it moves around the body from place to place. This pain usually responds to the same treatments as hyperalgesia.
Sparkler Pain. This burning pain feels like pain from a sparkler on the 4th of July. They can make you jump and frequently scratching them triggers tactile allodynia.
Rattled Nerves Pain makes you feel jumpy and achy all over. You may also feel nauseous and dizzy. Things that trigger Rattled Nerves Pain include 1) repetitive, loud, shrill, or grating sounds; 2) crowds, flashing lights, busy patterns; 3) busy traffic, confrontations, fibro-fog induced confusion or disorientation. When this happens, I try to get away from the situation as quickly as possible, preferably somewhere quiet, and do something calming.
If you have fibromyalgia, you may have to try several different approaches before you find something that brings you comfort. Besides exploring all your options in terms of pain treatment, it is important to educate those around you – share what you know about your condition and develop a support system. Research shows that people who suffer from fibromyalgia do much better at easing their symptoms when surrounded by people who understand and encourage them.
Watch for my next blog: "Natural Pain Aids That Work."
Quote of the Day
Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of overcoming it.
~ Helen Keller
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