Although fibromyalgia can be a primary condition, it more commonly occurs as a secondary phenomenon.
Generally speaking, diseases that have fatigue as a prominent feature are those that may be
complicated by secondary fibromyalgia. The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
Pain - the characteristic pain of fibromyalgia is a diffuse achiness. It is poorly localized and is perceived to be in the muscles, joints, nerves and bones. Patients complain that they hurt all over and feel as though they have the flu. Occasionally the pain takes on a sharper stabbing quality. Many patients report that the intensity of the pain fluctuates, but that it is never completely relieved.
Extreme fatigue - 100% exhaustion following minimal activity is common. 15% are bedridden and can do virtually nothing, 70% are home bound and cannot even do light housework, and 75% are easily fatigued by normal activity.
Headache - 60-70% of all fibromyalgia patients have a severe migraine-type headache. Although the headache may appear anywhere, most are one-sided and include facial and/or neck pain which often leads to muscle spasm.
Eye complaints - including pain in or around the eye and focusing difficulty.
Ear complaints - which include pain, tinnitus, hearing loss and stuffiness.
TMJ pain - which includes clicking, catching, locking and stiffness.
Tooth complaints - including pain, sensitivity to hot and cold.
Nasal and sinus congestion.
Pain in the shoulder, chest, arms, hands and upper back.
Nausea and/or vomiting.
Mitral valve prolapse - Two good studies have been done showing that 60-75% of all fibromyalgia patients have mitral valve prolapse and will complain of irregular heart beat, flutter and/or shortness of breath.
Raynaud's syndrome - 20 to 30% of patients experience this to some degree, manifested by cold hands and/or feet, followed by redness, heat and tingling.
Irritable bowel syndrome - 39% of fibromyalgia patients experience abdominal wall tenderness, diarrhea and/or constipation.
Bladder problems - increased incidents of bladder irritability, frequency and interstitial cystitis.
Thyroid disease - anti-thyroid antibodies are found in 20-30% of all fibromyalgia patients.
Butterfly rash - reddish (lupus type/ rash found in 25% of fibromyalgia patients.
Pain in all four quadrants - 100% of all fibromyalgia patients have widespread pain.
Sleep disturbance - 95% suffer from sleep disturbances due to decreased REM sleep.
Tender points - findings indicate patients are tender everywhere, including skin folds - some areas only more accessible to touch (i.e., tender points).
Sensitivity to hot and/or cold - 98% of those with fibromyalgia feel worse in very hot or very cold temperatures.
Paresthesias - 70% of those with fibromyalgia have paresthe-sias, manifested by numbness, tingling and prickling.
Brain abnormalities - cognitive dysfunction is seen in 70% of all fibromyalgia patients (i.e., memory loss or intellectual inefficiency).
Increased vestibular problems - inner ear disturbance, dizziness, balance problems, sensitivity to noise.
Skin changes - seen in 70-80% of all patients - dry skin, peeling, net-like skin changes - hair loss, painful peeling of skin on fingers, nail loss (splitting and peeling).
Dry eyes and dry mouth - are a very common finding, called sicca syndrome.
Morning stiffness - 75% of all fibromyalgia patients report this symptom.
In addition to the aforementioned, fibromyalgia patients experience the following :
Chest pain and shortness of breath - seen in 60-70% of fibromyalgia patients.
Sore throat, swollen glands, low-grade fever and night sweats - are seen in 50-60% of fibromyalgia patients.
Muscle involvement - weakness, irritability and spasm (80%). Muscles are deconditioned and there is reduced ability for repair. Researchers are also seeing many damaged muscle cells. There is apparently a relationship between this finding and the fact that fibromyalgia patients have below normal levels of ATP in muscle cells.
Intolerance to alcohol - 50%.
Vision problems - i.e., photophobia.
Painful menses - also vaginal pain not associated with menses.
Subjective soft tissue swelling.
Depression, anxiety and stress - believed to be secondary to chronic pain. There are now many studies that support this.
Cutaneous hyperemia - reddened areas on the skin, especially at tender points.
Allergies and increased sensitivities to drugs.
Hypo-glycemia - low blood sugar and carbohydrate intolerance seem to be widespread in fibromyalgia patients. Symptoms include weakness, nervousness, headache, drowsiness, nausea and paresthesias of extremities.
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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12