Chronic widespread body pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia. Both men and women with fibromyalgia often experience moderate to extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to touch, light, and sound, and cognitive difficulties. Many individuals also experience a number of other symptoms and overlapping conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, lupus and arthritis. Other medical conditions associated with FM include: tension headaches, migraine, irritable bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis, premenstrual syndrome, cold intolerance, temporomandibular joint syndrome, endometriosis, vulvodynia, restless legs syndrome, cervical spinal stenosis and lower back pain. Still others include sleep apnea, non-cardiac chest pain, acid reflux, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chemical sensitivities, nasal congestion, numbness and tingling sensations in the extremities, difficulty focusing eyes, dry or burning eyes and mouth, dizziness or feeling faint, sweating, muscle weakness and balance issues can occur. People with fibromyalgia are often sensitive to odors, loud noises, bright lights, some foods and even the medication prescribe for their symptoms. FM accompanies other chronic pain conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (20% of RA patients have FM) and Lupus (30% of Lupus patients have FM) and can accompany cancer, multiple sclerosis, and many other medical disorders. Memory and concentration difficulties in retaining new information may seriously interfere with everyday mental tasks and the ability to retain employment. Both physical and psychological stress, play a role in symptom severity.
The pain of fibromyalgia is profound, chronic and widespread. It can migrate to all parts of the body and vary in intensity. FM pain has been described as stabbing and shooting pain and deep muscular aching, throbbing, and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling, and burning are often present and add to the discomfort of the patient. The severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Aggravating factors that affect pain include cold/humid weather, non-restorative sleep, physical and mental fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety and stress.
In today's world many people complain of fatigue; however, the fatigue of FM is much more than being tired after a particularly busy day or after a sleepless night. The fatigue of FM is an all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with occupational, personal, social or educational activities. Symptoms include profound exhaustion and poor stamina
- Sleep problems
Many fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder that prevents them from getting deep, restful, restorative sleep. Medical researchers have documented specific and distinctive abnormalities in the Stage 4 deep sleep of FM patients. During sleep, individuals with FM are constantly interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity, limiting the amount of time they spend in deep sleep.
- Other signs, symptoms, and overlapping conditions
Additional symptoms may include: irritable bowel and bladder, headaches and migraines, restless legs syndrome (periodic limb movement disorder), impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes and mouth, anxiety, depression, ringing in the ears, dizziness, vision problems, Raynaud's Syndrome, neurological symptoms, and impaired coordination.