Fibromyalgia is the most common cause of multiple regional pain and disability of the musculo skeletal system. It is usually associated with medically unexplained symptoms such as pain in the chest, back, shoulder and abdomen along with headache, fatigue and dizziness.
Fibromyalgia is a progressive disorder that can occur at any age, beginning from teen years to elderly age. The incidence rate in men is very less as compared to women. In females, the prevalence of this disorder is ten times more as compared to males.
A variety of psychologically distressing events are closely associated with Fibromyalgia. These can range from marital disharmony, habit of alcoholism, trauma and low self esteem. Fibromyalgia is also referred to as either musculo-skeletal or neuropsychiatric disorder.
Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia
Alteration In Sleep Architecture Or Sleep Abnormality
The patients suffering from Fibromyalgia are deprived of deep sleep phase. This means that even after receiving sufficient hours of sleep, the patient feels exhausted to the core. This symptom is often described as a non restorative type of sleep.
Processing Of Abnormal Pain and Sensitivity
Marked reduction in the threshold to pain and tolerance is considered as a vital symptom of Fibromyalgia. The sufferers also experience pain amplification due to which even the lightest touch can cause a painful reaction that continues for abnormally extended time duration. Flaring up of symptoms occurs on being exposed to lights with more brightness or certain items of food. Hyperalgesia is the medical term that describes the elevated sensitivity towards pain which a majority of patients with Fibromyalgia experience.
Multiple Regional Pain
Pain in various parts of the body is felt by patients with Fibromyalgia. The pain is usually focused on the neck, back and extremities which is often non responsive to traditional analgesics or non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs. Even physiotherapy fails to alleviate the pain sensation and in most of the cases, further worsens it.
The pain due to fibromyalgia gradually affects all the regions or quadrants of the human body, in particular the legs, arms, neck and back. The nature of pain experienced varies from dull to sharp, throbbing pain. The intensity of pain is severe during the morning time and is subject to exacerbation by changes in the weather conditions, stress level or physical activity.
One of the important symptoms of fibromyalgia is marked fatigability which is prominent during the morning hours. The intensity of exhaustion experienced varies and initiates all of a sudden, making the patient feel totally devoid of energy and incapable of doing any work or participating in any social, personal or education related activity.
Numbness And Tingling
Being a musculo-skeletal disorder, most of the patients report numbness and tingling sensation in the fingers accompanied by swelling of all the fingers as well as the hand.
One of the manifestations of Fibromyalgia is the skin changes. Itchy skin is a very common symptom among such patients. Such skin rashes appear as slightly elevated bumps all across the body and if over scratched, can lead to the formation of sores or skin infection.
Cracked and dry skin can be seen on any part of the body especially on the fingers and hands. Such skin has a tendency to peel off leading to pain. Marked skin tenderness leads to swelling and bruising even upon the slightest of skin contact.
The patients suffering from fibromyalgia become incapable of performing functions performed on a daily basis such as dressing up, feeding and grooming themselves. Such patients find it tough to do even the easiest things like cleaning, running household errands and shopping too. The excessive pain and stiffness keeps many of the patients from doing their office related work and invariably end up giving up their jobs.
Even though no neurological defect has been noticed in most cases, yet depending on the age, many individuals suffer from osteo arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Facial muscles as well as those in the scalp, neck and shoulder region are affected in Fibromyalgia. Stress, lack of sleep or trauma can lead to pain and difficulty in normal opening and closing jaw movements. Jaw pain on one or both sides of the joint and clicking sound is often reported.
Patients with fibromyalgia have several memory related difficulties such as visual or verbal. They either find it almost impossible to retain a verbal conversation for long or jumble up the words they remember. Even their visual memory gets affected to a great extent.
Such patients find it very challenging and frustrating to keep their attention intact. As a result, their ability to grasp new things or carry out many tasks at the same time is hampered. Mental confusion is frequently noticed in fibromyalgia which makes interaction at the social or office level difficult.
Low level of serotonin in the brain is thought to be the cause behind all the symptoms related to depression. Patients begin to have feelings of worthless or guilt, refuse to indulge in social activities or make decisions on their own.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It has been observed that almost seventy percent of patients suffering from fibromyalgia also experience symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome that cause discomfort, are unpleasant and inconvenient. It must be understood that both the conditions plus the chronic pain experienced are related to the imbalance in the level of serotonin as well as the stress level the patient is being subjected to.
Some of the common symptoms patients complain of include difficulty in emptying the bowels completely (constipation), pain and feeling of stomach bloating and distention. Nausea and vomiting have also been reported. As a result, several dietary and lifestyle modifications need to be followed in patients with both, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Both males and females complain of a burning sensation whilst passing urine as well as abdominal pain. Other symptoms involving the urinary system include increased urge as well as greater frequency of micturition during the night.
Aggravated Pre Menstrual Syndrome
Females with fibromyalgia experience severe symptoms of pre menstrual syndrome in comparison to the unaffected women. As a result, the painful intensity of cramps, feelings of irritability and exhaustion are experienced a few weeks before the commencement of the menstrual cycle that quickly vanishes post the initiation of the cycle.
Approximately, seventy to ninety percent of all female patients with fibromyalgia suffer from primary dysmenorrhea consisting of painful, lower abdominal cramps during the menstrual cycle accompanied by intense discomfort. Headaches, cold sweat and dizziness makes the pain caused due to fibromyalgia even more severe.