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Fibromyalgia 101: What It Is, How It Feels, and What You Can Do

Updated: May 2


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. FMS pain is initially caused by a shortening or tightening of the muscles caused by decreased energy in the body. It is similar to the way your muscles get tight after a heavy workout.


This condition can be incredibly frustrating because symptoms vary greatly from person to person and can fluctuate over time. Here's a breakdown of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia:


Widespread Pain: This is the hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia. The pain can be felt all over your body, but may be more concentrated in specific areas like the back, neck, shoulders, hips, or knees. It can manifest in several ways, including aching, burning, or sharp, stabbing sensations.

People with fibromyalgia often experience heightened sensitivity to pain. Even gentle touch can feel uncomfortable, and minor injuries may cause pain that lingers much longer than usual.


Medical terms for this sensitivity include:

  • Hyperalgesia: Extreme sensitivity to pain.

  • Allodynia: Pain triggered by things that shouldn't be painful, like light touch.


This sensitivity can extend beyond pain to other stimuli like bright lights, smoke, or certain foods. Exposure to these triggers can worsen other fibromyalgia symptoms.



Stiffness: Fibromyalgia can cause stiffness in muscles and joints, often worse upon waking or after prolonged periods in the same position.



Fatigue:  Exhaustion is a common symptom, ranging from mild tiredness to the kind of deep fatigue experienced during a flu. This fatigue can come on suddenly and drain your energy reserves completely.



Sleep Problems:  Despite spending enough time in bed, people with fibromyalgia often wake up feeling unrested. This is because the condition disrupts deep, restorative sleep.




Cognitive Difficulties ("Fibro-Fog"):  Many individuals with fibromyalgia experience cognitive issues impacting memory, concentration, learning, and speech. They might describe feeling "foggy" or mentally sluggish.






Headaches:  If fibromyalgia affects your neck and shoulders, you might experience frequent headaches. These can range from mild to severe migraines and may involve nausea or other symptoms.




Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):  Some people with fibromyalgia also have IBS, a digestive condition causing abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.


Other Symptoms:  Fibromyalgia can manifest in various other ways, including:

  • Dizziness and clumsiness

  • Temperature regulation problems (feeling constantly hot or cold)

  • Restless legs syndrome (an uncontrollable urge to move your legs)

  • Tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in the hands and feet (pins and needles)

  • More painful periods in women

  • Anxiety

  • Depression


If you suspect you have fibromyalgia, talk to a Functional Medicine Practitioner. It is very important to understand that Fibromyalgia is treatable, despite what your doctor may have told you.   


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