Widespread pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia Table 01. If you have fibromyalgia, you will most likely feel pain in all four limbs, your spine, and chest wall. Other common symptoms are poor sleep, fatigue, swelling in the soft tissue (especially the hands), numbness in the extremities, headaches, restless leg syndrome, and irritable bowel symptoms. Joints may be tender to the touch, and pain may limit range of motion. Other symptoms include jaw pain, memory impairment, menstrual cramping, dizziness, sensitive skin, and chemical sensitivities. It has become clear that considerable overlap exists between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, tempromandibular joint syndrome, and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
Most people with this condition complain of aching and stiffness around the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, and hip Figure 01. Tenderness on compression in 11 out of 18 specific sites called "tender points" is the hallmark of fibromyalgia. People suffering with fibromyalgia may also experience tingling or numbness in the extremities, or tension headaches. They may have no underlying disorders, or may have such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, spinal arthritis, or irritable bowel syndrome.
Figure 01. Eighteen tender points in fibromyalgia
Table 1. Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Widespread pain Stiffness Poor sleep Fatigue Swelling in soft tissue (especially hands) Numbness in the extremities Headaches Restless leg syndrome Diarrhea Abdominal pain Tender joints Limited range of motion Jaw pain Memory impairment Menstrual cramping Dizziness Skin and chemical sensitivities
Fibromyalgia is much more likely to affect women. The overwhelming majority of people with this condition (85%-90%) are women between the ages of 40 and 60.
Trauma, physical exertion, overuse, humid or cold weather, stress, and poor sleep may aggravate symptoms.
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