Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Updated at: Jan 19, 2013
Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia, which may vary in severity from mild to severe. Other major symptoms of fibromyalgia include extreme sensitivity, stiffness of body, fatigue, poor quality sleep, cognitive problems ('fibro-fog') and headac

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Other DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Jun 29, 2012

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary from person to person. The disease may either decrease or exacerbate the symptoms; they may also either come or go over time. In most people, however, they are unlikely to disappear altogether.

Symptoms may improve or worsen depending on factors including:

  • changes in the weather conditions,
  • your stress and anxiety levels and
  • your level of physical activity.

Major symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  • pain,
  • extreme sensitivity,
  • stiffness,
  • fatigue,
  • poor quality sleep,
  • cognitive problems ('fibro-fog') and
  • headaches.

Pain: Pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia, which may vary in severity from mild to severe. The person experiences pain upon touch and the painful areas are called tender points. Tender points are widespread on the body and located in the soft tissues on the back of the neck, shoulders, chest, lower back, hips, shins, elbows and knees. Pain starts in these points and spreads from here. Pain may be experienced all over the body, though it tends to be worse in particular areas, such as your back or neck. The pain may be like a deep ache or an acute burning pain. The person may feel as if the pain is starting from the joints, but the joints are not affected.

Extreme sensitivity: People with fibromyalgia become extremely sensitive to pain all over the body and may find even the slightest touch very painful. For instance, when a patient with fibromyalgia hurts his/her toe, the pain tends to be more severe and lasts for much longer than normal. Some people may feel pain to something that should not be painful at all, such as upon a very light touch. Besides touch, people with fibromyalgia may become very sensitive to other things, such as smoke, certain foods and bright lights. Coming in contact with something the person is sensitive to may cause other symptoms to flare up.

Stiffness: Fibromyalgia can make a person feel stiffness, especially after he/she has been in the same position for a long period of time. The stiffness is worse in the morning. The muscles may develop spasm (i.e. contract or squeeze tightly), which can be painful. This can also disturb sleep.

Fatigue: Fatigue or extreme tiredness is a common symptom of fibromyalgia. It may vary from mild tired feeling to extreme exhaustion (for instance, when you have flu-like illness). Many people may develop severe fatigue very suddenly and this can make them feel sapped of all the energy.

Poor quality sleep: Fibromyalgia causes disturbed sleep and therefore, you may often wake up feeling tired (even though you have had plenty of sleep).

Cognitive problems ('fibro-fog'): People with fibromyalgia may experience cognitive problems, such as problem with thinking and learning. They may have difficulty in remembering and learning new things and difficulty in concentration.

Headaches: The pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders may cause frequent headaches. The headache may vary from being mild headaches to severe migraines (may be associated with nausea and vomiting).

Other symptoms that may occur in a person with fibromyalgia include:

  • disturbances in bowel function,
  • inability to control your body temperature (feeling too hot or too cold),
  • restless legs syndrome (unpleasant feeling in the legs that may make you feel the need to move your legs to get some relief),
  • sensory changes such as tingling, numbness, prickling or burning sensation in your hands and feet,
  • tinnitus (hearing noise in one or both ears that comes from inside your body) and
  • anxiety or depression.




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