While only a small percentage of the population having Fibromyalgia, the occurrence of this disease is significantly higher in women. The majority of cases may also occur in one's late 30’s through 50’s.
Having knowledgeable of this disease will allow you to recognize symptoms as they appear or worsen. Since there is no definitive test, knowing what’s wrong can help your doctor more effectively diagnose and treat your problem.
The central symptom is pain. It is generally widespread throughout the muscles, tendons and ligaments throughout the body. This includes areas on both sides of the body and above and below the waist. It may be more prominent in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips.
While pain can occur at any time, it is usually worse in the morning when you first wake up. Pain and other symptoms occur in episodes. An episode must last at least three months in order to be diagnosed with this condition.
In addition to generalized pain, an individual suffering with this condition will also experience intense pain when certain parts of the body are pressed firmly. When a doctor examines you specifically to determine if this is what you have, he or she will press on 18 different points on the body. To be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, you should have pain or tenderness in 11 of these pressure points.
Sleep studies have shown that women patients tend to have bursts of activity in their brain intermittently during Stage 4 sleep. This is when your body normally rests and regenerates itself physically. Even though you seem to be getting enough sleep, your body probably isn’t getting the right kind of rest.
Lack of proper sleep causes patients to experience moderate to severe fatigue. Fatigue can be so bad that some doctors hypothesize Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are not only related, but may possibly be the same disease. Lack of proper sleep can also cause other symptoms, including poor memory, lack of concentration, and anxiety.
Another common symptom is depression. This is not only due to constant stress from chronic pain, but also from lack of proper sleep. Since the symptoms and depression are so similar, your doctor should screen you for both in order to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
Many women are also diagnosed with IBS or have some other intestinal problem. They may experience diarrhea, constipation, pain, or bloating.
While these are the most common symptoms of Fibromyalgia, you may experience other problems. Women also report: headaches, numbness, dizziness, and sensitivity to stimuli such as sound, touch, smell, or even the weather.
If you suspect you may have this condition , your doctor will run a battery of tests to rule out other disorders before they actually provide a diagnosis.