If you’re suffering from chronic pain, it’s important to know whether or not fibromyalgia is the cause of your symptoms. After all, those who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia should steer clear of opioids in order to avoid addiction.
How do you know whether or not you have fibromyalgia? While you’ll need to see your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and seek safe, effective treatment options, you can start by considering whether you have any of the following 10 signs of fibromyalgia.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary from person to person, so you won’t necessarily experience all of these symptoms. However, if some of these signs have you thinking, “Yes! That’s me!” then it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
1. You’re in pain
Yes, we know that sounds vague, but this is an important place to start. Although signs of this condition can vary, all sufferers of fibromyalgia share one important symptom—chronic pain for at least three months. More specifically, that pain will typically occur at 11 or more of your body’s 18 tender points, which are found in the neck, shoulders, knees, and more.
2. You sweat, sweat, and sweat some more
Though joint pain is the most well-known sign of fibromyalgia, profuse sweating can also be an extremely uncomfortable symptom of this condition. The sweating can even be so out of control that you begin to fear you have a fever. Many people begin to experience anxiety over this symptom, so be sure to talk to your doctor about how you can relieve the discomfort you’re feeling.
3. You flinch in response to a light pat on the back, the texture of your sheets, or the friction from your clothes
These symptoms may sound absurd to those who don’t understand your pain, but it’s a legitimate symptom of fibromyalgia. It even has a name—allodynia. Allodynia is marked by an extreme sensitivity to touch, which can make everyday things that others don’t think twice about completely overwhelm your senses.
4. You shy away from strong smells and bright lights
Much like that sensitivity to touch, you may be experiencing hypersensitivity to smells and light. When your body is overwhelmed by these stimuli, you can experience stress, irritation, or even physical pain. Your brain is simply overwhelmed by all the messages it’s receiving from your body.
5. You feel confused or forgetful
If you’re suffering from fibromyalgia, you may notice you’re in a “fibro haze” or “fibro fog.” This means you struggle to think clearly and remember simple things. Overall, you just feel a bit out of it and unable to keep up with conversations and what’s going on around you. You can try fighting the fog by avoiding caffeine, exercising regularly, and sticking with a routine.
6. You can’t remember the last time you had a good night of sleep
Between the pain, the sweating, and any other symptoms that are plaguing you, it’s no wonder that you can’t get a decent night of sleep. In fact, many people find that they struggle with restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea in addition to their fibromyalgia. The exhaustion that results can make that “fibro fog” even worse or lead to feelings of depression.
7. You’re feeling depressed
Living with fibromyalgia isn’t easy—especially before you receive a diagnosis and can begin treatment. It’s not uncommon for sufferers of fibromyalgia to experience thoughts and feelings in line with depression. Fortunately, doctors often prescribe antidepressants such
as Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft to treat fibromyalgia, which should help relieve this symptom as well.
8. You frequently shiver or experience numbness
You may or may not experience unexplained cases of shivers or general numbness. Sometimes, this is interspersed with sudden spurts of relaxation. In many cases, this symptom can mark a dual diagnosis of fibromyalgia and anxiety, but try not to worry—your doctor can guide you towards treatments that help with both conditions.
9. You’re experiencing pain or problems in your bladder or bowels
While this isn’t necessarily a direct symptom of your fibromyalgia, this condition can increase the risk of or simply worsen irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or painful bladder syndrome (PBS). Although researchers still don’t fully understand the link, these three diseases seem to be connected in some way. Symptoms of IBS and PBS include cramps in your abdomen, frequent urges to pee, and pain during sex or urination.
10. You’re cranky, anxious, and exhausted
You may normally be a “Positive Polly,” but fibromyalgia can make even the happiest person feel cranky and anxious. The ongoing pain, increased sensitivity, profuse sweating, and other symptoms can be overwhelming and exhausting. If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety or simply can’t seem to shake your bad mood—in addition to experiencing other common symptoms—you may be struggling with fibromyalgia.
Living with fibromyalgia is difficult, but it isn’t hopeless. Talk to your doctor today to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. You can also explore alternative methods of treatment, including massage, chiropractic manipulation, exercise, and relaxation therapies, to ease your symptoms.