Signs and Symptoms
The pain caused by Fibromyalgia can vary, depending on the time of day, weather changes, physical activity, and the presence of stressful situations; it has been described as stiffness, burning, radiating, and aching. The pain is often more intense after disturbed sleep. Fatigue and sleep disturbances are most common in patients with fibromyalgia.
Between a quarter and a third of patients experience depression, and disturbances in mood and concentration are very common. Fibromyalgia patients are also prone to tension or migraine headaches. Other symptoms include dizziness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, and gastrointestinal problems, including irritable bowel syndrome with gas and alternating diarrhoea and constipation. Some patients complain of urinary frequency caused by bladder spasms. Women may have painful menstrual periods.
Fibromyalgia is sometimes categorised as primary or secondary; primary fibromyalgia is the more common form.
Many experts believe that fibromyalgia is not a disease but rather a dysfunctional disorder caused by responses to stress in people who are more prone to stress because of negative histories or genetic factors.
Some experts believe that disturbed sleeping patterns may be the cause for many cases of fibromyalgia pain.
People with fibromyalgia also tend to have low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and its precursor, an amino acid called tryptophan. Low levels of both these chemicals are associated with depression and other symptoms of fibromyalgia, including gastrointestinal distress, migraine headaches, and anxiety.
Studies have suggested that the incidence of sexual and physical abuse is higher in female patients with fibromyalgia than in the general population. This indicates that post-traumatic stress disorder may play a role in the development of this disorder in some people.
Depression is very common which means that it is highly likely that a high percentage of fibromyalgia patients will also experience depression independent of the muscular disorder. Depressed feelings in people with fibromyalgia are often reactions to the pain and fatigue caused by this syndrome.
Another symptom of fibromyalgia is sleep disturbance, which may actually be due to sleep disorders, chronic insomnia, restless legs syndrome, or obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, a breathing disorder often marked by loud snoring and thrashing in bed.
The exact cause of Fibromyalgia Syndrome is unknown. It has been suggested that is was firstly an inflammatory condition, although due to its association with depression it was then classified as psychogenic rheumatism. However, it is now believed that anxiety and depression are more than likely a result of fibromyalgia rather than a cause.
The psychological aspect of Fibromyalgia encompasses the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The problem that researches have found with the psychological link to the causes of Fibromyalgia Syndrome is the inability to separate the symptoms of depression that may have existed before, from those symptoms that may be a cause of chronic illness. Whether depression precedes, accompanies or follows the onset of Fibromyalgia Syndrome, the two components are said to be separate.
The factual information on this page was compiled from:
There is also a Health Translations Online Directory that enables you, health practitioners, and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find reliable translated health information.
The Directory provides web links to online multilingual resources across the health sector including government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, community health centres and welfare agencies.
MSN Health (http://content.health.msn.com/condition_center/fms)
by people who have had experience with Fibromyalgia.
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your comments and experiences with Fibromylgia to share with others.
I have had fibromyalgia since I was 21 years old. I was pregnant for my first child and noticed my calves ached. 5 years later it was in my arms and 3 more years it was in my thighs. (I am just waiting for my eye lashes to ache too) ha.
I had no stress, I was married, owned a home, having a new baby, I was very happy. No drepression or problems.
When I had my second child it was even harder on my body. I had a 5 year old and an infant and I walked through the two story house on my knees, with knee pads on. Pittiful. I could not walk. Calfs were full of knots, hard and tight.
I am now 45. Still have fibro, but doing better. Seeing a chiropractor who put me on a cleanse to rid my body of all toxins. He says a pure body only becomes ill with toxins and poisons.
Well the only poison I was in was, flea bombing the house when I was 21. And doing it again when I was 26. My husband left the house all day to work, and I was the one who returned into the house when the package said it was safe. It was NEVER safe. If it will kill a bug. Don't inhale it or put it on your skin. Now I learn.
This is the only thing I can think of that might of caused my fibro. I also have mercury fillings.
I have been taking Moodlift for three weeks now. I have found a real imrovement in my sleeping, pain and fatigue related to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndromes. I brought the moodlift at http://www.vitaminking.com.au/ at a price of 79.95 for 60 tablets which is the cheapest on the internet.
After my first child was born in 1988, I suffered post-natel depression. 22 months later I had my daughter. When she was about 4 months old, I started getting alot of pain in my right arm. I was diagnosed with tennis elbow and told that the depression was back. In all of that time I felt I was losing my mind as the pain become intense and I truely believed it was my imagination. Over the next 10 years my ex had affairs which put alot of stress on me then in 1994 I had a breakdown as I was continually told I had tennis elbow and the other pain was in my imagination. After my third child was born my body was continually in pain, I spent alot of time in counselling and groups to make me better. Finally in 1995 I changed doctors and was sent to a rhumatologist who seemed to know what was wrong. At that time I still believed it was because of my mental state so it was another 12 months before I seen her again and the fibro was diagnosed. I have tried many medications over the years, they seem to help for a short period of time then I need to try something else. I have tried to stop smoking, tried to exercise and change my life style. I seem to only last short periods before the despondency creeps back. Since my divorce my condition has improved slightly and I now know it is a truely real disorder though some of my family and friends still think Im nuts. The hardest things about fibromyalgia is not being able to hug my children tightly as on some days the pain is too much. I am studying part-time which is great but can be exausting. The frustration I feel at being on a disability pension is hard to handle. I have some days the pain is so bad I wish I had a acrod sticker for my car, but I cannot bring myself to get one as I dont know how I would handle the looks from people, who think because they cant see anything wrong then you are abusing the system. I practice meditaion when possible and try to sleep as much as I can, which then brings people to say here she goes again, still lazy. I will fight my illnesses for as long as I can. Sometimes I take 3 steps forward then 5 steps back. I dont know if this makes a lot of sense but its the way it was and is.
At the end of 1996 I was diagnosed with Ross River Virus and Glandular Fever. I had only been newly married for 3 months and now found myself bed-ridden for 4 months whilst trying to deal with a violent and abusive husband.
Moving from my bed was almost impossible. I had severe fevers, headaches, flu-like symptoms, post-nasal drip, bowel problems ranging from diarrhoea to constipation, muscle and joint spasms and pain, unable to keep still/restlessness/tossing and turning in bed due to aching muscles/joints (this was particularly painful as I did not have enough energy to turn over and it took every ounce of me to do so), lack of memory and unable to concentrate on anything longer than a sentence or two.
One of the most frightening things for me was when I often woke up in the middle of the night on my back paralysed from my waist down and unable to move. My husband had to carry me to the toilet, it was incredibly frightening, as I thought I would remain paralysed, but within a few hours it would disappear again each time, as quickly as it had appeared.
In April 1997, after exhaustive tests, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Depression, and was put onto anti-depressants.
Around June I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, when extreme pain accelerated.
Fibromyalgia is partly diagnosed by applying pressure to certain points of the body, most of which I would almost go through the roof in pain when touched.
I was super sensitive to any kind of touch, even gentle, and would be in severe pain if anyone even touched me lightly. I had dizzy spells and felt unbalanced when walking. Any kind of activity was short-lasting (eg. if I put the clothes in the washing machine, I would then have to lie down until they had finished their cycle. Then I would put it into the basket and take it to the clothes line, where I would drop the basket and go back to lie down. The washing would remain in the basket until my husband or son hung it out.)
I often had flashes in front of my eyes, after which a severe migraine would come on. Hyper-sensitivity to light, sounds (especially children, shopping centres, traffic and loud people) and smells. I often had ringing and pain in my ears or a blocked sensation which could last up to a few weeks. I had a sore throat constantly and most of the time the glands in my throat are up. Chemicals became a problem, I was unable to bleach my hair blonde any longer, chlorine affected me as did pesticides, perfumes and many other harsh smells/chemicals.
With my breakdown (and after leaving my ex-husband after suffering 10 months of a violent and abusive marriage) in mid 1997, I was bed-ridden once again for 6-8 months. I was still unable to function as I had before the end of 1996, and the rest of 1997 became a blur.
At this point I was unable to even care for my personal hygiene, but that was mainly due to my breakdown, and that is another story.
I am now going into my 4th year since being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and as most of the symptoms have persevered, I have come to the point where I have learned to live with this illness, as well as the Fibromyalgia, depression, anxieties and phobias.
I was once a very active slim person, I used to lift weights and swim laps, as well as walk and jog miles every day. I took pride in my looks and fitness. Now that is just a memory. My hobbies of bush walking, camping, travelling, backpacking, hiking for miles, driving, pushbike riding, even simple tasks like crafts, all are just a memory.
Many people say to me to do some sort of activity, I try, believe me, but the after-affects are just not worth it. I might go fine with walking or doing some gentle exercise for a week or so, then I am bed-ridden for a week. Losing so many days like that IS JUST NOT WORTH IT to me.
I have found some degree of enjoyment in life in simple things like taking my dog to the beach and sitting under a tree while she runs around, or going for a gentle short walk.
I have tried many, many medications, therapies, well-meaning advice, herbals, and various concoctions over the years, but what I have found helps me the most is the following.
A sensible diet that includes lots of fresh fruit and veg, wholemeal or multigrains, muesli, milk products, pasta, rice, fish, chicken and anything that doesn't over-tax the digestive system. I have found that alcohol, chemical sweeteners and white bread are intolerable, a big NO-NO for me!! I take a multi vitamin & mineral tablet, an anti-inflammatory (specifically for rheumatoid arthritis, but helps with my joint pain) called "celebrex", cipramil anti-depressant (serotonin reuptake inhibitors apparently help a little with the CFS as well as depression), and weekly visits to physiotherapist which helps with muscle and joint problems as well as migraines and headaches.
I also gain relief from a heat cushion (for muscle and joint pain), linament oil and "goanna arthritis cream". I also have thrown out all my heeled shoes and now only wear shoes with low or no heels (an obvious one!!).
I try to get a good 9 hours sleep each night and rest during the day. I am able to do more than I was even a few months ago, but my energy levels are still greatly reduced, and I often have what I call "relapses" if I have sleep problems, extra stress etc.
I often find myself wishing I could have my old life back, when I was slim and active and pretty, when I didn't have to plan my life around sleep, rest times, taking medication and making lists so I don't forget anything. Sometimes I just wish for the old Caron back, but I know that will never be. Responsibility, working, consistency, activity, stamina, reliability...just a dim, enviable memory.
If I ever get to see any of these things again in the very near future, I will count myself a very lucky person!! I have been tested and poked and prodded and needles stuck into me, x-rays, CAT-scans and just about every kind of procedure known, to rule out the possibility of any other diseases/illnesses/conditions etc. I have these done about every 3 months. And yes, I HATE them, but I accept them as part of my life now.
Almost 2 years ago, I finally agreed to going onto a Disability Support Pension. Centrelink wanted to put me on one 18 months earlier as they stated I was unfit to work "in my condition", but at the time I refused because I was determined that I would make myself better.
Finally, with the help of my families Doctor (she has looked after my family for about 10-12 years now), as well as another Doctor, I began to see that I was not going to get well any time soon and it would be prudent of me to receive an entitlement. I had a lot of guilt over this initially, however I started to realise that I had been working since I was 17 and paying my taxes for 15 years before I got sick, so I gave myself permission to go onto a pension for awhile.
Unfortunately, CFS and Fibromyalgia are still widely not accepted as "real illnesses" by not only the general community, but by Doctors as well, which creates a certain amount of stigma and frustration for sufferers. But the good news is that research is creating a better profile for these illnesses as it becomes more widely known.
There are many things I dislike about being a CFS and Fibromyalgia sufferer, many things that frustrate, depress and annoy me, but one of the things I find intolerable is when I hear people who feel run down and tired saying "I think I must have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome"!! To me, its like a slap in the face, because they are belittling the debilitating affects that CFS has on a real sufferer. And yes, I have had friends say stupid things like that to me. I just look at them in stunned silence. If only they knew!!