Fibromyalgia mainly plagues women; however, men can develop fibromyalgia. Researchers believe the difference in the number of diagnoses may be because women are more likely to go see their doctor than men are. However, some researchers believe that more women are diagnosed with fibromyalgia than men are because a woman’s body reacts to stress differently than men’s do.
Fibromyalgia has a plethora of symptoms that can mimic other health conditions. In order for a diagnosis to be made, patients must have widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body along with symptoms lasting for at least 3 months. There are 18 tender points that are used to help a physician diagnose fibromyalgia. In order for a diagnosis to occur, a patient must experience pain on at least 11 such points.
Fibromyalgia causes many cognitive problems. Sufferers may experience fibro fog. This condition prevents people from focusing, concentrating and even completing everyday tasks. For example, they may have trouble expressing feelings or ideas, saying the wrong word or simple math equations. Additionally, sufferers may have difficulty paying attention; have short-term and long-term memory problems and poor judgment.
Fibromyalgia can cause depression, suicidal thoughts, irritability, and panic attacks. Oftentimes, these issues are caused by chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia.
The inability to judge distances and balance difficulties are common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Additionally, sufferers may bump into things, drop things and have difficulty focusing on objects.
People suffering with fibromyalgia often experience extreme fatigue. They wake up tired even after sleeping longer than their counterparts. This may be caused by widespread pain, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Fibromyalgia can cause numerous gastrointestinal problems, including frequent constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, nausea and vomiting. Abdominal cramps, heartburn and gas are also common gastrointestinal disturbances. Finally, patients may experience unintentional weight gain or weight loss, have either an increased or a decreased appetite or experience abnormal food cravings.
Fibromyalgia causes a plethora of neurological symptoms including the inability to think clearly (fibro fog), lightheadedness, fainting, vertigo and dizziness. Additionally, patients may experience sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise and tinnitus. Sleep disturbances may also occur. This can include excessive sleeping, non-restorative sleep, difficulty going to sleep, changes in sleeping schedules and vivid nightmares.
Widespread pain is the number one symptom of fibromyalgia. Trigger point pain along with headaches, joint pain and myofascial pain (TMJ syndrome) are common in fibromyalgia patients. Additionally, sufferers often experience muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms or legs. Muscle twitching, joint pain and chest pain are also common complaints. Some exhibit dull aches and pains that last for more than three months. The pain is widespread and is located on each side of the body and above and below the waist.
Fibromyalgia patients often experience varying degrees of sensitivities. For example, normal dosages of medications may not be tolerated by sufferers. Sensitivities to odors (perfumes, cleaning products, chemicals and hair products) often cause reactions. Finally, many patients develop food sensitivities, alcohol intolerance and may experience taste, hearing or smell alterations.
Urinary and sexual difficulties often plague people with fibromyalgia. Frequent urination, prostate pain, impotence, decreased sex drive and bladder pain is common. Women may also develop worsening PMS symptoms along with endometriosis.
Many fibromyalgia sufferers experience frequent changes in vision, blind spots and eye pain. Dry eyes, blurry vision and the inability to switch focus are also symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Dental problems, including canker sores and periodontal disease plague some fibromyalgia patients. Additionally, skin issues, such as rashes, hair loss, sores, eczema or psoriasis can occur. Finally, fibromyalgia patients may be at an increased risk of developing a mitral valve prolapse as well as cancer.
The number one symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic pain. Although there are many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, one does not have to have all symptoms in order to be diagnosed. Additionally, those suffering with fibromyalgia are at an increased risk of having anxiety, depression, tension headaches, TMJ disorders and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, lifestyle changes, nutritional approaches, and certain medications and/or natural supplements may help alleviate and control symptoms. Finally, fibromyalgia suffers may find relief by alleviating stress through a variety of relaxation techniques, including yoga, meditation, exercise, and acupuncture.
Ready to take control of your chronic pain and fatigue, mood disorders, memory troubles or sleep issues? Call us at (571)529-6699 and request an appointment with our integrative physician who specializes in the treatment of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. Our experienced and caring staff will guide you along your journey to achieve optimal health and wellness. We are conveniently located to serve the northern Virginia area, including Fairfax, Loudoun, Alexandria and Price William counties, along with the Washington DC metro area and Maryland.