This is an introduction to a broad category of posts for Fibro Pulse where we’ll be discussing the potential symptoms you might have with fibromyalgia.
This series isn’t just a long list of symptoms, but tips for relief as well; we’re going to specifically discuss how each symptom relates to fibro and how you might find relief. This first post will cover some of the most prominent symptoms in very broad brushstrokes.
If you ask fibro folks, the effects of this condition are endless. One source even recorded over 200 self-reported symptoms! Considering fibro’s neurological link, it’s not surprising that people report such a wide array of problems.
BUT, some symptoms are particularly characteristic of this condition. I’ll be covering aspects of how fibromyalgia affects the physical body, natural rhythms, and mental processing.
Physical Body Symptoms
The absolute hallmark symptom, the one thing that EVERYONE with fibromyalgia experiences, is chronic widespread pain.
The pain can manifest all throughout the body, but some of the more common complaints include headaches, jaw pain (TMJ), neck and back pain, joint pain, and muscle stiffness.
There is a baseline level of pain that never completely goes away. However, it can increase in severity – or flare up – and then decrease to a more tolerable level. And the pain sensation itself can be sharp and stabbing, dull and ache-y, shooting, or burning.
Then we have extreme sensitivity. This can affect all five of your senses.
Things that other people don’t even notice, like the sun shining directly on you or music playing, can become so overwhelming that you can barely think straight or hold a conversation. The threshold is just much lower for those with fibromyalgia.
All this pain and sensitivity throws off your natural rhythms, particularly sleep and digestion. There’s strong evidence to indicate that fibromyalgia is the result of a hyperactive stress response, also known as fight-or-flight.
Because your mind and body don’t revert to a rest-and-digest baseline, getting deep, restorative sleep is nearly impossible. Your nervous system is always on high alert which results in trouble falling asleep, tossing and turning, and waking up frequently in the night.
With your body unable to relax, it doesn’t have time to properly process food, which leads to digestive difficulties such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Fatigue is another common symptom of fibromyalgia. Like the pain, it can come and go in waves…you might be feeling fine one minute and be completely drained the next.
Fibromyalgia impairs your mental processing, both in terms of cognitive function at the moment and long-term mental health. Fibro fog is the term used to describe the difficulties fibro folks have with thinking, learning, and remembering. It’s like walking through Jell-O – everything is slower and more difficult – you’re constantly reaching for things but can’t quite grab hold of them.
Finally, mental health is adversely affected in the form of depression and anxiety. Chemical imbalances associated with the condition can make you more prone to developing depression. On top of that, having an incurable condition like fibro can make you feel trapped and alone, especially when you see so many people going about their lives without having to deal with these issues.
Like I said earlier, this is just an introduction to the whole category of Fibro Pulse symptom posts. We’ll be giving all these symptoms and more their own post with more details and tips for managing them through self-care.
Have you found these to be the most common in your experience with fibromyalgia? What other symptoms have you experienced and would like me to cover in future posts? Which symptom do you find the most frustrating?
Please share your answers in the comments below!
• The Fibro Manual by Dr. Ginevra Liptain (2016) http://www.drliptan.com/book/