If you find yourself asking “how do I know if I have fibromyalgia,” you’re not alone. Every year, 10 million people in America will be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, making it one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the nation. Experiencing chronic pain can make everyday actions in your life seem to be impossible, and can disrupt your personal and professional lives.
Keep reading for a few symptoms of fibromyalgia that can indicate that you need to talk to a doctor.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disease that causes aches and sharp pains in your muscles and bones. It is not a well-understood condition – some people develop the condition following a physical injury, while others simply develop symptoms slowly.
As it is not well understood, fibromyalgia has no cure. Following a diagnosis by a medical professional, however, gives a variety of treatment options. Some people use medications to relieve pain, while others see positive results through stress-reduction techniques and exercise regimens.
How do You Know if You Have Fibromyalgia?
The following are some of the most common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. As the causes and realities of fibromyalgia are not yet fully known, these symptoms can change with time. Pain may come and go on different days, and manifest itself in different parts of your body – which can make diagnosis hard.
1. Pain and Sensitivity
The unifying and most common symptom of fibromyalgia from person to person is chronic pain without cause throughout your body. The pain can range from a dull, burning ache to a sharp pain, and it can move to different parts of your body.
The pain may be seemingly innate, or it may be caused by even gentle touches. Minor pains, like knocking your elbows on the counter, can cause extreme discomfort that does not subside for a very long time.
Beyond sensitivity to pressure, you can find it unpleasant to experience heat or cold. You may find yourself overheating or freezing in rooms that are otherwise temperate.
You may also find that your hands and feet suffer from pins and needles. This is the same sort of feeling that you experience when your hand falls asleep or has poor circulation. While not necessarily painful, this can be an unpleasant sensation that can leave your hands feeling numb throughout the day.
2. General Stiffness
Closely related to chronic pain, fibromyalgia can make your entire body feel stiff and sore. You may find your body’s range of motion to be severely restricted. Feeling a little stiff in the morning is normal: fibromyalgia is when that stiffness does not go away for hours, even while you are up and moving.
3. Chronic Fatigue
Fibromyalgia can also have a substantial effect on your energy levels. You may find that you struggle to do basic tasks, and you may even wake up from a long night of sleep feeling exhausted. This happens because the pain that fibromyalgia causes prevents you from fully falling asleep at night.
4. Mental Exhaustion
Beyond feeling physically tired, fibromyalgia can leave you struggling to piece together coherent thoughts. A general fog over your mind can leave you struggling to concentrate. This can affect your ability to remember things, your ability to speak, and can even cause dizziness.
As a side effect of being physically and mentally fatigued, you may also experience a strong and persistent headache or migraine.
5. Painful Menstruation
While fibromyalgia can affect both men and women, over 90 percent of new cases in the US are women. One of the more common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia diagnosis is a substantial amount of pain during menstruation. While painful periods can be caused by a range of conditions, or may simply be naturally occurring, a sudden increase in the amount of pain that you experience with no other changes can be a huge red flag for fibromyalgia.
While not necessarily caused by fibromyalgia itself, chronic pain and stress can be major contributing factors to depression. You may not even notice yourself getting depressed, as the pain that you experience is constant and may seem permanent. Of course, depression can increase your stress levels, which in turn can increase the severity of other fibromyalgia symptoms.
If you worry that you are becoming depressed, and think it has to do with your physical health, talk to a doctor. They’ll be able to determine what’s causing your physical pain, and provide you with treatment options for both your fibromyalgia and your depression.
7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Another common sign that you may have fibromyalgia is the sudden development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS can cause severe cramping, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, and is a chronic condition that will flare up periodically.
The development of IBS can happen on its own, and a doctor can give you management options. However, the development of IBS along with other symptoms listed above makes fibromyalgia the more likely condition. Treatment of your fibromyalgia may alleviate your IBS symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is a Manageable Condition
While the above symptoms do seem harsh, fibromyalgia is something that can be managed. With the right treatment, the severity of these symptoms can be greatly reduced, allowing you to continue to live your life normally.
Now that you know how to answer the question “how do I know if I have fibromyalgia,” you can figure out when you should see a medical professional. You can contact our team at the Cohen Medical Center if you are in the Thousand Oaks area to set up an appointment today.