Early Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a condition that manifests as widespread muscle pain and fatigue. While the Arthritis Foundation lists it among the more than one hundred forms of arthritis, the common belief held by most is that the symptoms of the condition actually stem from an overactive nervous system. Individuals experience the condition to different degrees – for some it is relatively mild while for others it is quite severe.
Additionally, fibromyalgia is also extremely challenging to diagnose. The condition cannot be identified by x-rays, blood work, or any other types of scans, so patients often go years without a diagnosis. Typically doctors identify the condition with a physical exam as well as a thorough assessment of one’s history of symptoms. In the earliest stages of the condition, symptoms can be very general and mimic several other conditions. So knowing what to look for and working with a skilled physician helps individuals get a prompt and accurate diagnosis.
One of the classic symptoms of fibromyalgia is the feeling like one just cannot get a good night of rest. The rest may be disturbed throughout the night, or the individual may simply wake feeling unrefreshed, even after an appropriate amount of rest. This feeling of disturbed sleep likely arises from not having the right balance of chemicals in the body to allow one to fall into a deep state of restful sleep.
Stiffness and/or Numbness
Fibromyalgia is often associated with recurring neurological symptoms that may present as numbness, tingling, burning, or even stiffness throughout the body. The sensations often increase if one has not been resting well. Likewise, too much or too little exercise as well as anxiety can increase the impact of early neurological symptoms associated with the condition.
In the earliest stages of the condition, many patients report noticing problems with memory and concentration. These issues often present in conjunction with other general symptoms, including sensitivity to noise and light, chronic headaches, join issues, pelvic pain, restless leg syndrome, and depression. According to research, these symptoms are often present in the early stages of fibromyalgia; however, they do not definitively point to a diagnosis of the condition.
While it may seem like these two conditions would be completely unrelated, the reality is that often if an individual has one, he or she will also have the other. IBS and fibromyalgia can both be lumped into a category known as “functional disorders,” which is a group of conditions in which the body is not working as it should but no outstanding cause can be identified. At any rate, the pain associated with IBS is located within the body while that caused by fibromyalgia comes from within. Even though the pain originates from different locations, researchers believe that their causes are likely related.
Partially due to the sleep disruption, individuals often begin to experience excessive fatigue in the early stages of this condition. Some individuals may just think that they are overtired, but the fatigue associated with fibromyalgia is all-encompassing and can go as far as to interfere with occupational, personal, social, and/or educational activities. It goes beyond just feeling tired, which everyone is akin to at some point.
One of the most definitive early symptoms of the condition is developing tender points throughout the body. These spots are located across the body and are extremely sensitive to the touch, specifically when palpated by a trained physician. Identifying these tender points is often one of the most crucial steps in diagnosing the condition. To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, an individual must test positive for eleven of the eighteen tender points.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it does present a thorough explanation of some of the most common early symptoms of fibromyalgia. By understanding some of the most common early symptoms, individuals can seek earlier treatment and hopefully find relief before the condition progresses to an excessive degree.