Fibromyalgia is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects people socially, physically, and mentally.
Fibromyalgia does not have a single cause.
The fibromyalgia diagnostic criteria as set forth in 1990 by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) includes a history of pain being widespread in each of the four quadrants of the body for a duration of 90 days or three months. In addition there would need to be the indication of pain in 11 of the 18 tender points when an amount of pressure is placed on them.
Since the fibromyalgia patient appears normal, all tests will usually come back negative for anything else, which makes fibro a diagnosis based on exclusion.
Obtaining a diagnosis can be difficult, since there are currently no tests that can accurately test for fibromyalgia. This means that doctors must rely on first hand accounts from the patient and the patient’s loved ones, a medical history, and the accurate tender point exam, as seen in the picture.
It can take upwards to 5 years or MORE for a doctor to reach a conclusion and diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Since it is a syndrome of exclusion and many of the symptoms can be attributed to various other disorders, diseases, and conditions, you are left with a time consuming and costly path of diagnosis.
One of the ways to simplify the process is to ensure that you keep a pain journal. By documenting your symptoms of when, and where you can help speed along the process of diagnosis.
We know that fibromyalgia symptoms are organized in three sections: Structural, Chemical, and Emotional. There are symptoms for each of those areas – with some overlapping on others. To view each of these Symptoms and a brief description click on the links below:
Some of the more common, and less detailed symptoms are:
- Chronic Muscle Pain, Spasms, and tightness.
- Fatigue and Decreased energy
- Stiffness upon waking or staying in one position for a longer period of time.
- Insomnia, or waking up feeling really tired even after a good amount of sleep.
- “Fibro Fog” difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing normal tasks.
- Symptoms similar to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) stomach pains, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Migraine headaches, or tension headaches.
- Jaw Tenderness, and facial tenderness
- Tingling in extremities, or numbness. Such as fingers, arms, toes, and legs.
- An irritable bladder, urinating more frequently or sudden feelings of having to urinate right away.
- Severe muscle pain after exercise
- The feeling that you have swelling – though nothing is swollen
The above are what is considered the most common of symptoms across fibromyalgia. We know that fibromyalgia symptoms fall into one of three categories – though some overlap, the categories are Structural, Chemical, and Emotional.
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