Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder. There are no laboratory tests to confirm its existence and no treatments to cure its symptoms. The condition is characterized by chronic, widespread joint and muscle pain without inflammation.
To determine if you’re one of the estimated 10 million Americans who have fibromyalgia, you need to take note of the location and severity of your pain, as well as any of several other symptoms that are commonly associated with the condition.
Location of pain: If you have fibromyalgia, your pain isn’t confined to one area of your body. It’s located in muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints on your left and right sides, as well as above and below your waist.
A doctor who suspects you have fibromyalgia will squeeze several tender points on your body to see if they hurt when pressure is applied. These tender points are located in the front and back of your neck, upper chest and back, hips, buttocks, elbows, and knees.
Duration of pain: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition. Although the intensity of your aches may vary from one day to the next, if you have fibromyalgia you will suffer from some level of pain consistently for at least 3 months.
If you’re experiencing this type of chronic pain, be sure and discuss these symptoms you’re your doctor. Fibromyalgia can be mistaken for, or exist side-by-side with, other diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or hypothyroidism.
Fatigue and sleep disturbances: Exhaustion is a common complaint among fibromyalgia sufferers. On some days, you may find that your fatigue is so severe you can’t accomplish what you need to get done, even though you slept through the night.
Researchers believe fibromyalgia sufferers may not be able to fall into a deep enough so that they wake up feeling rested. Restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea are also sleep disorders common among fibromyalgia sufferers.
Headaches: For more than 50 percent of fibromyalgia sufferers, the condition brings recurring tension headaches and migraine pain.
Irritable bowel syndrome: You may also be experiencing diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and bloating, and nausea. At least 40 percent of people with fibromyalgia have digestive problems.