Fibromyalgia is a common condition that causes pain and tenderness all over the body.
Currently, around 800,000 people in the UK are thought to have the painful syndrome, though the NHS puts numbers much higher – it estimates that 2 – 4.5 percent of the population may be suffering, which would mean between 1.2 million and 2.8 million people.
The exact cause is unknown, but it’s thought it might be brought on by a stressful experience, such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness.
The NHS lists common signs of fibromyalgia to look out for.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common one is widespread pain. This may be felt throughout your body, but could be worse in particular areas, such as your neck or back.
A clear sign of fibromyalgia is that the pain is continuous, although the degree of severity may change.
The NHS notes that the pain could vary, and could be an ache, a burning sensation or a sharp, stabbing pain.
Increased sensitivity to pain
Fibromyalgia makes a person extremely sensitive to pain, so that even the slightest touch might cause great discomfort.
“If you hurt yourself – such as stubbing your toe – the pain may continue for much longer than it normally would,” the NHS states.
Sufferers may also feel pain from things that shouldn’t be painful at all, such as light touching.
Fibromyalgia is a common condition that causes pain all over the body
Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common one is widespread pain
Fibromyalgia can increase muscle stiffness. The NHS recommends that sufferers keep moving, because the stiffness is exacerbated when you are in the same position for a long time.
It can be particularly painful in the morning after a night in bed, and regular exercise can help.
The painful condition can also cause your muscles to spasm.
Fibromyalgia can affect your sleep, resulting in what the NHS describes as “non-restorative sleep”. Because the condition can prevent a person from sleeping deeply, you may wake up tired.
Research also suggests that disturbed sleep patterns may actually cause fibromyalgia, rather than just a be symptom.
Fibromyalgia affects sleep, resulting in what the NHS describes as “non-restorative sleep”
Problems with memory and concentration
Another common sign of fibromyalgia is a change to a person’s thinking ability. You may have trouble remembering or learning new things, have problems with attention spans and concentration, and have slow or confused speech.
These cognitive problems are collectively known as ‘fibro fog’ and are different for each sufferer.
Frequent headaches are another symptom of fibromyalgia. They are more prevalent in sufferers who complain of neck and back pain, notes the NHS.
People with the chronic condition are also more likely to suffer from migraines than the general population, and will feel the pain more intensely.
Changes in your diet are said to help with the pain associated with fibromyalgia. Arthritis Health recommends cutting out vegetable oil. This includes all corn, safflower and peanut oil as they have an inflammatory effect, especially when involved in frying food.
“The medical literature has linked fried foods to worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms,” it says.