Getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia is usually a difficult process, even though it’s now easier than it used to be. It can be challenging to find a doctor who will take your concerns seriously. And fibromyalgia is sometimes called “the great mimic” because so many illnesses have similar symptoms. Wondering if you might have fibromyalgia? Use this fibromyalgia symptoms checklist and discuss it with your doctor.
Widespread pain is one of the most common telltale signs of fibromyalgia. This symptom feels like you have a deep ache all over your body. Your skin feels sore when people touch it and the ache goes down to your bones. This kind of pain can make it difficult to move, though inactivity ironically often makes it worse. Pain relievers usually won’t offer much relief, either.
You would think that being tired and in pain would mean that you’d sleep like a baby. But sadly, many people with fibromyalgia actually have trouble falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest. Pain often disrupts the ability to sleep. There’s nothing worse than being so exhausted and still being unable to get the rest you need to recover. But when you do finally fall asleep, it’s also possible that you could sleep for 10 to 12 hours. Fibromyalgia means you’ll need sleep but your sleep probably won’t be normal.
Fatigue is not just about feeling tired. It’s more like the amount of your exhaustion is disproportionate to the amount of effort you put into something. Something simple like cleaning the house or going grocery shopping will leave you feeling drained and exhausted for days. Because you are not likely to be sleeping well, your body never gets the chance to fully recover from activity, which increases feelings of fatigue.
Everyone has moments where they can’t remember the name of someone they met once or forget about an appointment. But it can be a sign of a real problem if this type of thing frequently happens to you. Many people with fibromyalgia suffer from cognitive difficulties, a type of confusion often called the “fibro fog.” Poor sleep is another contributing factor to fibro fog as well, making it harder to be mentally sharp.
Many people with fibromyalgia also deal with frequent depression. Certainly, being in chronic pain and getting poor sleep would put anyone in a bad mood. But the depression in fibromyalgia is more than just situational. You may also have mood swings, irritability, and anxiety or panic attacks.
Other Common Co-Existing Conditions
Irritable Bowel Syndrome includes symptoms that often alternate between diarrhea and constipation. You may have difficulty with having regular bowel movements. Stomach cramping often occurs as well. Symptoms may be linked to stress or specific foods.
Migraines and other headaches are part of the fibromyalgia experience as well.
Bladder issues include frequent urination, bladder spasms, interstitial cystitis, and pain during urination.
Female reproductive issues include painful menstrual cramps, irregular periods, pelvic pain, and premature menopause. Although the exact link between female hormones and fibromyalgia is not understood, it is thought to be the reason why fibromyalgia is so much more common in women.