Fibromyalgia is a common chronic pain disorder that affects about 10 million people in the United States. It can be challenging for doctors to diagnose fibromyalgia, partly because symptoms often vary from person to person. Currently, there are no definitive tests to prove that a patient is suffering from the disorder. If you’re worried about pain you or a loved one are experiencing, watch for these 6 common warning signs of fibromyalgia.
Warning sign #1: Sensitivity to touch
One of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia is allodynia, or a sensitivity to touch. Simple everyday gestures such as a pat on the back or a rub on the arm can result in extreme pain.
Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that might be sensitive to touch. Tender points may also cause you pain if pressed or touched. Doctors may even use these tender points to give a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Common tender points of fibromyalgia include:
- front and back of the neck
- mid- to upper-back of the shoulders
- upper chest
- upper buttocks
Warning sign #2: Fibro Fog
People with fibromyalgia often have cognitive difficulties that accompany their other symptoms. Fibro fog refers to these symptoms. With fibro fog, you might have short-term memory loss, difficulty finding word substitutions and disorientation that can last up to a minute per episode.
Other symptoms of fibro fog include:
- misplacing objects
- becoming easily distracted
- forgetting plans
- difficulty carrying on conversations
- inability to remember new information
Fibro fog has no specific cause. However, sleep problems, low thyroid levels or changes in the blood flow to the brain may be to blame.
Warning sign #3: Tingling
Another distressing, yet common, symptom of fibromyalgia pains is widespread tingling or numbness. These sensations are usually localized to specific areas of your body, specifically in your hands, arms, feet, legs or sometimes even your face.
When you have fibromyalgia, the tingling or numbness you feel may be downright debilitating. The tingling you experience will generally increase when you are anxious or when you find it difficult to fall asleep. In addition, tingling can become worse at specific times of day such as first thing in the morning or late at night. The frequency of tingling can also vary according to your schedule.
Warning sign #4: Excessive fatigue
If you are living with and treating fibromyalgia, you may find sleep hard to come by. The sleep disturbances that accompany fibromyalgia can affect how quickly you get to sleep, how deeply you sleep and how long you sleep each night. More likely than not, lack of good sleep will only exacerbate your other symptoms.
The fatigue you feel with fibromyalgia is usually an all-encompassing exhaustion that eventually interferes with your regular activities and life. The exhaustion you feel may come on suddenly, draining you of all energy.
There are several reasons you might have excessive fatigue. There are 2 common sleep disorders that overlap with fibromyalgia: chronic fatigue syndrome and restless leg syndrome.