Patients experience widespread, often disabling, musculoskeletal pain and fatigue as well as many other distressing symptoms. Flare-ups or periods of discomfort can be intermittent and appear without warning.
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia may include the following:
Fatigue can be both physical and mental in nature, and it may be severe enough to interfere with activities of daily living (ADL’s). While varying in intensity, fatigue is usually present at all times and is not relieved by sleep. In fact, it may be worse upon waking, especially after a lot of activity the previous day.
Muscle and Joint Aches
Aching of the muscles and joints can occur anywhere in the body, but the most common sites are the lower back and legs. The aching can be severe and is easily aggravated by exertion, either physical or mental.
Menstrual periods may be more painful than usual (dysmenorrhea), and sexual intercourse may also cause pain (dyspareunia). Chronic headaches and pain in the jaw and facial muscles are also common and can be severe. Abdominal pain/digestive disturbances, similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can also occur.
People with fibromyalgia often complain of memory loss (names and numbers) and difficulty concentrating. They also report an inability to take in information quickly. For example, they may have to read the same thing over a few times before comprehending it.
Emotional disturbances such as PMS, depression, anxiety and irritability may also occur.
Dizziness and loss of balance are not uncommon. They most often occur upon standing and the sufferer may feel faint and even black out.
Sleep disturbances are common and may present in the following ways:
- Hypersomnolence (sleeping more than normal)
- Sleep reversal (sleep all day and awake at night)
- Insomnia (inability to sleep)
- Sleep apnea (interruption of breathing)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association
American College of Rheumatology