What Is Fibromyalgia?
FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) is a chronic wide-spread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons (the soft fibrous tissues in the body).
Most Fibromites say that they ache all over. When they wake in the morning they feel like they have been run over by a truck and are as stiff as a board. They probably did not have a lot of sleep, everything they do during the day hurts and even if they take it easy, by the end of the day their muscles feel like they have done a full day's gardening.
Symptoms and Associated Syndromes Pain
The description of pain in FMS is extensive. Fibromyalgites describe it as deep muscular aching, acute stabbing, throbbing, shooting, burning, gnawing and crawling. The pain moves around the body, it can be general in some areas and acute in others where it seems to settle for some time and then move on. The pain is usually worse after any form of exercise.
This can be constant in some people and periodic in others. This is not like feeling tired. It has been described as a sudden attack of fatigue that has you unable to lift your arms and legs, fighting to keep your eyes open and like you have the weight of an elephant sat on your head. It can be quite frightening if it happens when you are driving a car. Other people have constant or patches of fatigue that does not allow them enough brainpower to recognise what day it is or allow them to do their daily chores.
Anybody who does not have this could never understand how the brain can get in such a muddle. It is thought that because the brain is processing so many messages of pain it cannot manage all the other messages it gets. Fibromyalgites have forgetfulness, absentmindedness confusion, short-term memory difficulties, extreme mental fatigue and periods of Fibro Fog (Like looking at the world from inside a cloudy glass bottle? detached, distorted and unclear)
Most Fibromyalgites have poor sleep. They wake up in the morning feeling like they have not slept a wink. They have trouble falling asleep or fall asleep easily only to wake at 3.00 or 4.00am and not be able to get back to sleep. This is apparently due to a sleep disorder called alpha-EEG abnormality. This happens due to the deep sleep (level 4 stage of sleep) constantly being interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity. Many FMS patients have been found to have other sleep disorders in addition to the alpha-EEG, Such as sleep apnea, sleep myoclonus (night time jerking of the arms and legs) and restless legs syndrome. Those that can sleep often over sleep and cannot seem to help it.
Other Common Symptoms
Stiffness, Headaches, numbness, tingling sensations, muscle twitching and cramping, irritable bladder, constipation, the feeling of swollen extremities, skin sensitivities, dry eyes and mouth, dizziness, visual problems, sensitivities to odours, loud noises and bright lights, painful periods and premenstrual syndrome. (See below for more!)
Changes in the weather, cold, damp or drafty environments, hormonal fluctuations, stress, depression and over-exertion.
What is the Prognosis?
The raising of awareness of Fibromyalgia by individuals, support groups and organisations and medical professionals will all help to improve the quality of life for people living with FM. By seeking new information, talking to others, re-evaluating daily priorities, making lifestyle changes and keeping a hopeful attitude the FM sufferer can become the FM survivor.
50 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia: