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10 Common Signs of Fibromyalgia

By Yvonne Keeny
A person with fibromyalgia will often have many of the following symptoms. However, signs and symptoms of this complicated ailment tend to vary from person to person and from day to day in ...

A person with fibromyalgia will often have many of the following symptoms. However, signs and symptoms of this complicated ailment tend to vary from person to person and from day to day in the same person.

Widespread Body Pain

The most obvious sign of fibromyalgia is pain in all four quarters of the body—above the waist and below the waist; left side and right side. The pain is often described as stabbing, throbbing, burning, or aching. It can come and go randomly, sometimes lasting a few seconds or for days. The pain can be debilitating if you try to manage it somehow day after day and year after year.



Fatigue is the second most common fibromyalgia symptom. Unlike regular fatigue, fibromyalgia-related fatigue is total exhaustion.

The intensity of fatigue varies from person to person and can change from one day to the next. Although a nap during the daytime may help reduce fatigue, sometimes resting doesn't seem to help.


Sleep Disturbance

Non-restorative sleep is another classic symptom of fibromyalgia, and clinical sleep studies also reveal that fibromyalgia patients report irregular rhythms characteristic of disturbed sleep according to a 2015 study published in Nature Reviews Rheumatology.

People with fibromyalgia may have trouble falling asleep, or they may fall asleep but have difficulty staying asleep. Either way, they may wake up aching all over and often feel tired and sleepy. Of course, lack of sleep worsens pain and fatigue, so this can be a real dilemma.


Memory and Concentration Problems

Brain fog, a.k.a. "fibro fog" is a commonly reported symptom of fibromyalgia. Patients often describe states of confusion, poor attention and concentration, and short-term memory loss. You may have difficulty concentrating, finding words, feeling alert, and remembering things.

This condition has earned its nickname: fibro-fog. In a study of 60 individuals—30 with fibromyalgia and 30 without fibromyalgia—researchers found various impairments of attention and memory in fibromyalgia patients when compared with healthy controls.


Bowel Issues

According to Web MD, about two-thirds of fibromyalgia patients have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It's a troublesome symptom that makes it difficult to have regular bowel movements. Symptoms include diarrhea or constipation. If you have one, you often have both. You may also have bloating, flatulence and belching, and feel like throwing up at times.


Depression and Anxiety

Many people who have fibromyalgia also suffer from depression. It is no surprise since many people become depressed due to the chronic pain and fatigue associated with this illness. Being told that we have to "live with it" the rest of our lives doesn't help either. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, 83.3 percent of patients with fibromyalgia was diagnosed as clinically depressed.

An anxiety disorder frequently occurs in fibromyalgia patients. It's common to feel anxious before a job interview or an airplane flight. However, an anxiety disorder is far different than occasional anxiety.

Out of 529 fibromyalgia patients, a higher percentage (71 percent) reported anxiety than depression (56 percent), according to a 2007 study published in Pain Medicine.



Migraines and tension headaches are both symptoms of fibromyalgia.

According to a 2015 study published in Headache, people who suffer from migraines are at a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia. Out of 1,730 fibromyalgia patients, 55.8 percent reported recurring migraines.

Tension headaches usually feel like constant pressure or throbbing and affect the skull and temples. It is not unusual for pain to extend further down the body, into the neck, shoulders and even the upper back.


Sensory Overload

People with fibromyalgia are often sensitive to temperatures, noise, bright light, and touch. Or, you might stub your toe, only to feel excruciating and throbbing pain for days.

You may be extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke or feel nauseous when stepping into a freshly painted room. Chemical-based cleaning products also seem to trigger these types of sensitivities, to the point where you cannot stand to be around them. Sounds in a moderate volume range can seem extremely loud. Lighting levels may seem unbearably bright, even when they are at normal levels.

A 2008 study published in the Journal of Pain noted that fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to several sensory stimuli. An earlier 1997 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology found that 33 out of 60 fibromyalgia patients met the criteria for multiple chemical sensitivities.


Muscle & Joint Stiffness

Many fibromyalgia patients have muscle and joint stiffness. While it's normal to experience these types of sensations after periods of strenuous physical activity, people with fibromyalgia develop muscle and joint stiffness for no apparent reason. This stiffness can be generalized throughout the body or may affect one or more muscle or joint groups. It can worsen if you are sitting or standing motionless for extended periods of time, or when you wake up in the morning.


Numbness and Tingling

Chances are you have had a "tingling" feeling in your fingers or feet. Did you ever keep your legs crossed too long, and when you uncross them, the feeling goes away? These burning, tingling, numb, itching, or skin crawling sensations, called paresthesia, tend to happen randomly with fibromyalgia. They may last a few minutes or persist for days or even weeks.

Of course, there are many more signs, but these are some of the most common.

I can't wait to hear your story! Post your comment below.

Yvonne Keeny
Your Fibro Diva

Quote of the Day: "And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to my feet once again—so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again."  ~ Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II



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Click HERE for more information on Fibromyalgia.




Arthritis Today.

Managing The Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia.

10 Signs And Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia You Should Know.

The Most Common Signs & Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia | Activebeat.

Paresthesia: Causes Of Pins And Needles and Numbness.