You’re in serious pain, but when the doctor asks where it hurts, you can’t come up with an answer. How do you explain whole-body pain, constant fatigue, and a foggy brain? Actually, you’ve just described three classic signs of fibromyalgia, a condition that causes widespread pain and other symptoms in millions of Americans.
For many years, fibromyalgia was stigmatized because neither doctors nor patients could pinpoint the cause. But our pain management specialists at Regency Pain & Therapy Institute in Mansfield, Texas, have extensive experience diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia. A thorough examination can confirm what you’ve known all along — the pain is real, and it has a name.
However, pain alone doesn’t equate to a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Here are the signs your pain may indicate fibromyalgia.
All-over body pain
Fibromyalgia may hurt your joints, but it doesn’t stop there. Your muscles ache, too, and you feel like you have tendinitis, bursitis, and osteoarthritis all at once. At times, it may feel like your entire body is under attack.
Morning stiffness is common, with or without fibromyalgia. It’s a sign of overexertion the day before, age, and arthritis. It’s also a sign of fibromyalgia, especially when it lingers for hours after you’ve stretched and moved around.
Tender points — small areas around your joints that feel pain with the slightest pressure — are fibromyalgia hallmarks. If someone touches your tender points, you feel pain beyond what is reasonable for the amount of pressure, and the sensation affects you just under the surface of the skin rather than causing a deep muscle ache.
Poor sleep quality
Fibromyalgia pain doesn’t let up at night, so it’s tough to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some studies also suggest that fibromyalgia can trigger bursts of brain activity while you sleep, preventing you from getting deep, restorative rest.
Fatigue is more than feeling sleepy after pulling an all-nighter; it’s bone-deep tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest. Fibro fatigue wipes you out, so you can’t exercise, everyday tasks like cooking and grocery shopping seem undoable, and sex is the last thing on your mind.
It’s not hard to see how chronic pain and lack of sleep can lead to emotional problems, but fibromyalgia causes more than occasional mood swings. Studies show that almost 29% of women and over 42% of men with fibromyalgia also suffer from depression and/or anxiety.
Nearly 56% of people with fibromyalgia develop migraine disease, and about 30% of people with migraine disease have fibromyalgia. Although researchers are still trying to figure out if this correlation is significant, they’ve also discovered that people with both migraine disease and fibromyalgia have more depressive symptoms than those without both conditions.
How we diagnose fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is tricky — it mimics other conditions, making it difficult to diagnose. If you suspect you have fibromyalgia, you must seek care from a professional who understands the condition well, like our Regency Pain & Therapy Institute team.
There’s no single, definitive test to diagnose fibromyalgia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t identify it. We follow a diagnostic protocol based on research and our own experience. First, we examine you to determine if you have clear fibromyalgia markers, including:
- Widespread pain that’s lasted three months or more
- Pain on both sides of your body, above and below the waist
- Pain in at least seven of 19 areas according to the widespread pain index (WPI)
- No other conditions account for your symptoms
Once we reach a fibromyalgia diagnosis, we can develop a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms, including lifestyle adjustments, over-the-counter or prescription medication, physical therapy, and osteopathic manipulation treatment.
If you suspect you have fibromyalgia, call Regency Pain & Therapy Institute at 817-345-6225 to schedule a consultation with our specialists.