Fibromyalgia Symptoms: 17 Signs and Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

Do you know that over 6 million people in North America suffer from a chronic painful condition called fibromyalgia?

Yet, there is still so much confusion and uncertainty surrounding this illness.

People suffering from fibromyalgia have widespread pain throughout the entire body and have other side effects that often last the entire day.

There is no cure to treat fibromyalgia permanently, but there are conventional and alternative medicines available which can help you to reduce the fibromyalgia symptoms and improve the overall quality of life.


Many people have reported that by changing the lifestyle, including reducing the physical and mental stress, changing the diet, tracking the sleep pattern and having an active lifestyle have helped them to achieve greater success in controlling their fibromyalgia flares.

Key Takeaway

No one knows for sure what causes the fibromyalgia, but it is associated with the problem in the central nervous system which is mainly resulting from the injury such as whiplash, stress or even illness.

If you are newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia illness or have been suffering from it for a while, always start with the least invasive treatment first and then gradually move toward more side effect probing prescription medication.

The fibromyalgia is not a life-threatening condition unlike cancer or heart disease, but it significantly affects the quality of life.

There are several signs and symptoms involving fibromyalgia, and not everyone will have all the signs and symptoms, but the majority of the people suffering from fibromyalgia will show at least 5 or more below symptoms.

Survey Result Conducted by Fibromyalgia Association. 

63 % Back Pain
47 % Headache
46 % Muscle Pain
40 % Fatigue
32 % Sleep Apnea

The List of 17 most common symptoms of fibromyalgia.

1. Widespread Pain


It is the most shared and visible sign of fibromyalgia. It is the first symptom of fibromyalgia and experienced by all of the patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

The pain occurs all over the body and will come and go randomly.

The fibromyalgia pain can be widespread over the whole body, or it can be localized more at a particular part of the body. The pain can be sharp, dull, throbbing or aching and can be felt in muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the hands, feet, neck and other joint points.

The pain is triggered due to several unexplained reasons. Many people have reported having pain even after not doing any strenuous activities, and several people have said to have pain comeback whenever there is a change in the weather.

Some other aggravating factors that affect pain are the physical and mental fatigue, stress, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, and anxiety.

The pain is typically worse in the morning and then gradually subside as the day goes on.

Pain usually occurs on the both side of the body and above and below the waist.You can help relieve the pain by using over the counter medication, or by using menthol containing heated patch that attaches to the painful areas.

2. Fatigue


Fibromyalgia patients are tired and fatigued all the time when their fibromyalgia flares are up.

Regardless of the amount of rest they have the fatigue remains constant and people experience tiny energy or having left no energy at all.

The pain and sleep disturbance, including sleep apnea, often aggravates the restlessness and causes people to be remain fatigued. Fatigue causes profound exhaustion and very low productivity level.

A regular exercise and change in diet which contains an adequate amount of fiber and keep yourself properly hydrated may help to counter the fatigue.

3. Sleep Disturbance


Fibromyalgia causes consistent pain which keeps people not to have a restful sleep, and it creates sleep disorder which prevents people from achieving deep, restful, refreshing sleep.

Researchers have found that fibromyalgia interrupts stage three and four sleep which is the often known as deep sleep stage.

While sleeping, fibromyalgia patients are always interrupted by awake-like brain activities which limit the time they spend in the relaxing deep sleep stage.

Fibromyalgia patients often show restless legs syndrome which is having an uncomfortable feeling in their legs and have the urge to move it continuously. You can identify any sleep issue by keeping a record of your sleep pattern.

There are several fitness devices available in the market which can track down your sleep level. Once you have identified your sleep cycle, you should either consult your family doctor or sleep specialist to help you improve your sleep.

4. Severe headache

Girl Having Headache

Fibromyalgia patients experience the same level of a headache as the migraine patients.

A headache caused by the fibromyalgia often overlaps with the migraine headaches which makes people confuse about the real cause of their headache.

Sometimes these headaches are triggered due to fibromyalgia flares, which causes chronic pain in the body and joints, and often it is caused by being exposed to environment or diet which triggers the fibromyalgia flares.

If you regularly have a headache, then try to identify the activities you did or food you ate before a headache. Identifying the fibromyalgia trigger can help you to reduce the number of headaches you might be having.

If you continue to get a headache, then you should talk to you doctor about prescribing you the migraine painkillers.

Many fibromyalgia patients have used Botox injection to control their chronic headache pain.

5. Muscle Spasm / Tenderness


Another painful condition for fibromyalgia patients is the muscle spasm or tenderness to the joints and general body parts.

The pain is often described similar to the sensation of a muscle pull or heavy overstraining typically experienced after a heavy workout.

The tenderness can be sore to the touch, and the area becomes hypersensitive that a slight pressure in the tender area can cause fibromyalgia patient to experience severe pain.

To reduce the muscle spasm and tenderness, using a heating pad to relax the muscle and light stretching exercise to loosen up the tight muscle ligaments often prove to be helpful.

Other alternative treatment such as taking a warm bath with some Epsom salt can also help with reducing the tenderness.

If the touch sensitivity does not subside, then you should ask your doctor to prescribe you anti-inflammatory medications.

6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS affects some fibromyalgia patients. Typically, women experience these symptoms more than men, but that does not exclude men to experience IBS as well.

IBS symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramps. Many fibromyalgia patients found relief from IBS through adjusting their diet such as eating more fiber in the food and properly hydrated to keep the bowel moving.

Abdominal exercises and yoga movements found to be helpful in treating IBS symptoms.

7. Numbness and Tingling


Fibromyalgia patients also experience numbness and tingling in their limbs or face time to time. Paresthesia is a typically associated with causing these symptoms, but fibromyalgia patients can experience the similar symptoms.

Usually, this numbness or tingling occur sporadically without any warning which causes discomfort to the fibromyalgia patients.

In extreme cases, patients also experience burning sensation under the skin, but these conditions are not the most commonly appearing in the fibromyalgia patients.

If you experience any of the above symptoms check out that you do not have paresthesia.

8. Hyper-reflexia


Fibromyalgia patients sometimes experience increased reflex response, also known as hyperreflexia.

The hyperreflexia lowers the threshold of reaction in the muscles and the tendon which causes the muscles to respond not only faster but also at the lower levels of electrical or mechanical stimuli.

The over-reactive or over responsive reflexes such as the ankle jerk or knee-jerk shows the problem due to upper motor neuron disease.

Fibromyalgia patients experience their condition due to the issue with the central nervous systems and these over firing of neurons can cause the hyperreflexia.

Fortunately, the occurrence of hyperreflexia is not very prevalent in fibromyalgia patients, and it is experienced by far fewer and limited in number.

9. Depression


It is no surprise that majority of fibromyalgia patients suffer from depression and it is primarily due to chronic pain and fatigue associated with the fibromyalgia condition.

The depression causes fibromyalgia patients feeling uninspired and irritable, and do not experience joy or pleasure they felt when they did not suffer from this illness.

Depression causes fibromyalgia patients to experience weight loss or gain, having little energy, feeling of guilt and a sense of worthlessness.

The several lifestyle changes including being more physically active and getting support from the family and friends combined with joining the support group can help to overcome the depression.

In the extreme cases, prescription medications can help fibromyalgia patients cope their depression.

10. Memory loss: Fibro Fog


Memory loss, confused, and forgetful is the condition often experienced by the fibromyalgia patients.

These cognitive difficulties are also commonly referred as “fibro fog” or “brain fog:”

The fibro fog causes the people in difficulty concentrating the given task and often lose the focus or activities they are doing.

There are some steps you can take to alleviate the fibro-fog symptoms. Reduce the caffeine as it causes the sleep disturbance, and for the short term it acts as a stimulant, but it often causes fibromyalgia patients to crash and burn fast.

Organize your life by keeping a planner and arranging surrounding space free from clutter which can help you to clear your thoughts. 

11. Mensural Cramp


Women affected by the fibromyalgia experience severe mensural cramp and terrible period that are extremely painful and discomforting.

Many women also experience that their pain fluctuates with the menstrual cycle.

Since most women with fibromyalgia are also between the ages of 35 to 55 years, several kinds of research have suggested that they experience their fibromyalgia symptoms far worse than their peers in post-menopausal or experiencing menopause.

Women are more likely to suffer fibromyalgia illness than men. 

Women with fibromyalgia condition experiencing painful period should use a hot water bottle, or heating pad over their abdominal area to reduce the painful cramps.

Also, drinking plenty of water and maintaining the iron level in the body due to a high amount of blood loss can help to overcome the mensural cramp.

Women after their menopause have 40 percent less estrogen, which controls the pain and mood. You should consult your doctor if your painful symptoms don’t go away after menopause.

12. Tender Points


Fibromyalgia patients experience sore spot areas, also known as tender spots, which are hypersensitive, and a mere touch or pressure cause the excruciating pain.

The field of the tender point can vary, and it can be localized to a particular point or little bit spread around.

Most of the tender points are scattered over the neck, chest, back, hips, elbows, buttocks and knees. The cause of these tender points is not exactly known, but these tender points are not random and occur in predictable places on the body.

In fact, these tender points are one of the most common ways doctors determine if you have the fibromyalgia.

If you have more than 11 tender points out of 18 and these widespread pains has been present for three months or more then it is more likely that you are suffering from fibromyalgia.

13. Excessive Sweating


Patients suffering from conditions such as autonomic nervous system dysfunction, heat sensitivity, anxiety and the fibromyalgia complain about the excessive sweating.

In some rare cases, the exact opposite can happen, and the skin can become too dry.

Excessive sweating is not a painful or life-threatening condition, but it can certainly be a miserable state. Use of antiperspirants and anticholinergic medicine can help in reducing the sweating.

Avoid the use of deodorants as sometimes the chemicals used in deodorants triggers the excessive sweating.

Sweating causes the loss of water, and it becomes critical that you keep yourself properly hydrated by consuming both water and the electrolytes to maintain water and mineral levels you sweat out.

14. Sensory overload


Fibromyalgia patients often encounter a sensory overload which means they are more sensitive to external stimulation such as bright light, loud noise, and smell that can cause them to get overwhelmed.

This sensory overload causes the fibromyalgia patients to be more confused and feel helpless.

For fibromyalgia patients, it is often difficult to explain their condition to the family and friends who see no direct outward problem.

It has been reported that fibromyalgia patients are more likely to experience the intense, unpleasant response to sounds, smell and taste sensations than a person not suffering from fibromyalgia condition.

If you experience the sensory overload, then avoiding the triggers can be helpful to control the symptom.

If you are sensitive to light, then using mild indoor lights and putting dark blinds can reduce the exposure to light.

Use of dark sunglasses can also limit the exposure of light into your eyes. For the sound, use an earplug or try to lower the source of sound if you can.

15. Restless leg syndrome


As per the study, people with fibromyalgia are 11 times much more likely to have restless leg syndrome than the average population.

People with restless leg syndrome experience uncomfortable sensations in the legs. It is a neurological disorder which causes throbbing, pulling, and uncontrolled movement in the legs.

Restless leg syndrome often gets triggered at night when the person is relaxing or sleeping. It disturbs the sleep cycle and keeps the person awake at night.

Symptoms typically last the whole night and subside at the early morning.The restless leg syndrome found to affect women more than men and become more frequent and last longer as people age.

Massaging the feet and increasing the blood circulation by using the heating pads or a hot bath may help to reduce the discomfort.

You can also ask your doctor to prescribe Mirapex (pramipexole) and Requip (ropinirole) to provide some comfort from the restless leg syndrome.

16. Dry Eye and Mouth


Fibromyalgia shows symptoms which are associated with other conditions. Some fibromyalgia patients show symptoms of dry eye and mouth.

The dry eye and dry mouth symptoms as shown in Sjogren’s syndrome are different than the symptoms shown in the fibromyalgia patients.

A study of corneal sensitivity and corneal changes in fibromyalgia patients indicates that the changes are same regardless of the age of the patient.

These same changes are found to be due to deterioration of the nerves around the eyes.

Although in the fibromyalgia patients the tear secretion, which helps to keep eyes moist, found to be reduced but not a level where it can cause severe dryness in the eye.

The dry mouth condition in fibromyalgia patients considered to be due to the reduced salivary secretion due to malfunction of the nerves surrounding mouth.

The fibromyalgia patients typically suffer more with dry eye condition than the dry mouth.

A use of eye drops can help to control the dry eye symptoms in the majority of the fibromyalgia patients.

17. Dizziness


Several fibromyalgia patients experience dizziness or light-headed which makes them a loss of balance and hard to stand on their feet for a longer time.

The dizziness can happen anytime and can occur on a regular basis. Over 70 percent fibromyalgia patients reported experiencing dizziness.

Most of the dizziness are caused by the low blood pressure or disorientation caused to the brain due to mixed, confusing signals.

Fibromyalgia patients often have a problem with maintaining healthy blood pressure, especially drop in blood pressure (hypotension) which causes dizziness and experiencing faintness.

Although even healthy people can occasionally experience dizziness, it is more recurring in the fibromyalgia patients.

If you experience dizziness, then you should either sit or lay down to avoid falling and risk injury.

Dizziness typically last for 5-10 minutes, and you should be able to feel normal once the symptoms pass but if you experience regular dizziness which lasts more than 10 minutes then you should consult your doctor.

To manage a dizziness in the fibromyalgia patients, keep hydrated, and get plenty of rests.

Avoid making any sudden movements such as quickly getting out of bed or turning your head quickly.

Do you experience any of the above fibromyalgia symptoms?

we would love to hear your experience in the comment below.

You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.

Image Source: Pixabay and Freepik

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Chief Editor here at Fibromyalgia Pain Cure, I'm a proud mother of one and diagnosed with fibromyalgia condition. My mission is to help others to get relief from fibromyalgia symptoms and live a healthy pain free life.