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10 Symptoms You May Experience With Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a tricky condition to live with as there are many symptoms you can experience beyond Pain and Fatigue. Here are 10 of the top symptoms you may experience and how to manage them.

Symptoms_of_fibromyalgia

Symptoms

1. Brain Fog

This is a cognitive impairment that causes problems such as temporary loss of memory, forgetting words or mixing up words, losing your train of thought, or saying things that don’t make sense. It can be frightening when it happens, as these are also signs of other conditions, such as Alzheimers Disease.

Your doctor can do some mental testing to make sure the symptoms you’re experiencing aren’t being caused by some other condition. Ways you can help yourself include keeping a notebook with you to write down important information, taking a moment to pause and collect your thoughts, and keeping a sense of humour about the situation. If you tend to panic about having this happen, laughing is a good way to keep things light while allowing you to start over with what you were saying.

2. Jaw Pain

Jaw pain in the joints on either one or both sides can be mistaken for TMJ (temporomandibular joint disfunction). Pain and swelling are the common symptoms of jaw pain along with stiffness and being unable to open the mouth without pain.

Gentle stretching exercises and muscle relaxants may be helpful in managing the pain. If only one side is affected, try chewing on the other side to relieve pain. If you hear popping or clicking, or if your jaw seems to be “out of joint”, see your dentist to rule out TMJ or other conditions.

3. Urinary Problems

If you are having difficulty with urinating, whether it’s a problem with urgency, leakage or straining, it’s good to check with your doctor to make sure there’s no underlying problem.

Having Fibromyalgia can affect the bladder and kidneys, causing the above symptoms. Some solutions include urinating on a schedule, doing Kegels, seeing a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, and using bladder control products for leakage issues.

4. Body Temperature

People with Fibromyalgia may have difficulty in regulating their body temperature. In my case, I can have cold skin and goosebumps, yet be sweating from overheating at the same time. It’s a very disconcerting feeling.

Things that may help include keeping a light blanket or sweater nearby for chills and a fan for when heat becomes a problem. I have found that keeping my feet warm helps with the chills and then using a fan helps ward off the sweating.

5. Weight Gain

There are over 60 symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Find out about the top 10, along with a few tips about how to treat them in this post.

Weight gain is often caused because of medications you may be taking for your Fibromyalgia. Even if you’re not taking prescriptions, you may find you’re still gaining weight – it’s one of the anomalies of having Fibro. The only way to lose weight is by taking in less calories than you are expending. Fad diets may work for a short period of time, but in general are unsustainable.

Following a proper eating plan from all 4 food groups is essential and exercise is as well. You may find walking helpful (consider using walking poles for extra stability) or water activities, such as Aquafit, Deep Water Workouts, or Pool Walking to be helpful.

6. Chest Pain

Chest pain can be a scary symptom of Fibromyalgia and should always be checked out by a medical professional if you experience the following:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.

The cause of chest pain in Fibromyalgia is often because of something called Costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage around the ribs. The condition usually affects the cartilage where the upper ribs attach to the breastbone, or sternum, an area known as the costosternal joint or costosternal junction.

Treatment includes anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen and using either heat or ice (which ever feels best for you).

7. Sleep Disorders

Pain can keep you from getting the sleep you need. You may also be experiencing Restless Leg Syndrome and not even be aware of it. Sleep Apnea is another problem that you may be facing and all of these issues can prevent you from getting the deep REM sleep that is necessary to repair the body.

Good sleep hygiene is important to follow. You may want to keep a notebook to jot down your thoughts when you wake at night to see if there is a pattern. Keep the room cool, avoid using electronics for one hour before bed, and try using a weighted blanket to see if that helps.

8. Digestive Problems

When you have Fibromyalgia, you may experience digestive disorders including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation (or occasionally both), heartburn and a general sense of feeling “unwell”.

Drinking peppermint tea can help with nausea, eating smaller more frequent meals might make a difference and trying to set up a schedule for bowel movements can help relieve discomfort. Metamucil or other Fibre supplements every day can be helpful for the bowels without resorting to laxatives.

If symptoms persist, see your doctor to rule out other potential problems.

9. Skin Problems

Itching, rashes, hives and tiny red marks can often show up when you have Fibromyalgia. Skin may become more sensitive to soaps and fragrances and you may discover that your normally dry skin has become oily or vice versa.

Use of a mild cleanser for face and body is imperative, especially ones containing oatmeal. Antihistimines are suggested when hives and itching become a problem and the tiny red marks that might show up on your skin are harmless.

If you have problems with skin rash, see your doctor who may recommend a dermatologist for further treatment.

10. Depression

Depression and Fibromyalgia may go hand in hand without you realizing you are showing signs. If you are finding yourself struggling to maintain interest in former activities, you’re isolating yourself, eating less or more than usual or have been unable to shake “the blues”, you may be experiencing Depression.

Treatment includes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and often, medications. There is no shame to having Depression – you haven’t done anything wrong. You’re not weak, your body is showing signs of a chemical imbalance which should be treated like any other medical problem.

If you are feeling so depressed that you are suicidal, please call a hotline for help. You can find more information on hotlines here for Canada and here for the United States. In the UK, you can use this page for help.

Conclusion

There are over 60 different symptoms that relate to Fibromyalgia. These 10 are just the tip of the iceberg, but are the ones more commonly experienced.

Fibromyalgia is hard to explain

If you are experiencing something new, or if a symptom you’ve had for awhile changes, it’s always important to see your doctor, to rule out anything outside of Fibromyalgia. Better safe than sorry is certainly the key here. And remember…

There Is Always Hope


Resources and Further Reading


Pamela Jessen lives in Langford, BC Canada. She is a blogger who writes about Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness at pamelajessen.com.  She also writes for The Mighty,  PainResource.com and various independent publications. Pamela is also a Patient Advocate with the Patient Voices Network in BC.  She sits on 4 committees and one Provincial working group and has also been involved in advocacy work at the Canadian National level as well. Pamela is married to her amazing husband Ray and they have one cat named Dorie. 

There are over 60 symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Find out about the top 10, along with a few tips about how to treat them in this post.
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Again, My World Shrinks

I probably shouldn’t be writing this right now. I’m so full of rage I’m apoplectic. I need to get some of this off my chest. I feel like I’m one big raw nerve being used as a hacky-sack by a battalion of porcupines. I feel sorry for the one who makes me burst, because I’m taking him down with me. All over a piddly little part-time job. Failure stings like a mother fucker. Rationally I understand that the circumstances of that failure are beyond my control, but truly, it doesn’t hurt any less. Going in, I knew there was a good chance it wouldn’t work, but still I can’t help but grieve the loss.

I had to quit driving with Uber. What precipitated this decision is the level of brain fog and cognitive impairment I deal with was quite literally putting lives at risk. After multiple very near misses (and being reported for one of my safety issues), I had to finally admit that I should probably quit before I ended up wrapped around a tree. This was on top of whittling away at my schedule until I was only working 4-6 hours a week because the physical and emotional stress was causing too much strain on my health with increased fatigue, new infections and other symptoms. It simply isn’t worth the risk to my health and the public safety.

Part of me is proud for admitting this and hanging up my keys on my own before anything bad happened. I watched my mother deteriorate the same way. She had to be forced to retire from her job, and did things like drive long after she should have while everyone who loved her looked on in horror. I don’t want to be that person.

I was hit with these cognitive problems 30 years younger than my mother was and I’m pacing the confines of my mind like a caged tiger. I wasn’t ready for this 10 years ago and I’m not ready for it now. Queue the renewed grief, the rage, the stages I have already come through and must revisit again after having had a taste of freedom.

Because I can no longer hold my job, the size of my world has shrunk back to 950 square feet. I’m not just losing the weekly interaction with my riders, a renewed sense of purpose, the feeling that I’m contributing to the betterment of my family and paying down my massive medical debt and working toward future goals. I’m losing my car and means of going out into the world at will because we’ll have to sell it. I’m losing a lot of confidence in my abilities and gaining the realization that even the most simple jobs are beyond my abilities. I can’t be trusted, not even by myself and that hurts A LOT.

If I’m being completely honest, I’m also relieved. I was stressed and worried all the time over what I was doing to my health, over the strong possibility of causing an accident and/or getting kicked off of the Uber platform for my many mistakes, over not being able to see well enough in the dark to work nights and over how it might eventually effect my social security. By finally admitting that I was in over my head and slowly drowning, I’m able to go back to concentrating solely on what I should be concentrating on; achieving the best health possible so I can live as comfortable and full a life as possible for as long as I have it. It’s a catch .22; I can’t enjoy relatively stable health when I’m doing too much and exposing myself to constant stress, even if that creates other stressors for me in the long run, even if it sometimes feels like hardly living.

The fact of the matter is I still have a lot of hurdles to address and caring for myself takes every ounce of energy I have. I have to cook all of my food from scratch. I have near weekly medical appointments, daily therapies, exercise and self-care I cannot do without and even things like keeping my pills stocked and organized accounts for hours each week. My cognitive deficits and shaking hands make me painfully slow at everything. I feel like a tortoise in a hare’s world and most of those things were either getting half-assed or completely ignored in exchange for a lousy $100-150 a week.

As I write this, I can feel all the anger starting to release. I can feel the logic and forgiveness taking over as the big picture comes into focus. I think of the money side of things and fear fills my sails, but no amount of money is worth dying for. I think back to where I was before I began working, when I took the time to create everything from scratch and I wasn’t in constant pain with bowel cramping, bloating and diarrhea.  When I had decent energy levels and didn’t suffer constant subluxations or torn tendons and ligaments because I managed every move like a miser and actually took the time to stick to a dedicated exercise routine that strengthened and energized me. These are the things I need to focus on and look forward to achieving again while trying to put this experience behind me.

My attempt at working part-time may have failed, but that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. If that were true, I would be accepting that I am nothing more than my diagnoses. Yes, I am a zebra with the trifecta of comorbid conditions, but that’s not all I am. I am a writer, a poet, an artist, a wife, a friend, an activist, a dreamer, a former teacher. I am a person with value, whether or not you see it or assign a monetary value to it.