Examine yourself for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a achy, weakening condition affecting the joints, muscles and soft tissue of the human body in about two per cent of the United States population. Its multiple symptoms are closely linked to:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis,
- Systemic Lupus
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and
- Epstein-Barr Virus
There is no trustworthy test for fibromyalgia. It is diagnosed by ruling out any other health condition that may be responsible for the primary underlying symptoms of fatigue, widespread muscle pain and multiple tender points.
The below mentioned questions test for the presence of Fibromyalgia and should not be used as a sole means of its diagnosis. If your primary three physical complaints over the last three to six months include fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and pain and you have experienced a considerable portion of the following for a minimum of three to six months, please visit your physician and discuss your treatment plan.
Fibromyalgia Self Examination
1. Do you have a history of any of the following that may explain your recent symptoms:
- A psychiatric condition with – psychotic features
- organic dementia
- anorexia or bulimia nervosa
- bipolar affective disorder
2. Substance abuse within 2 years of the appearance of the initial symptoms?
3. A medical condition, life change or new stressor?
- Does your fatigue impair your ability to function?
- Do you have difficulty sleeping?
- Are you frequently tired?
- Are you stiff upon waking in the morning?
- Do you oftentimes feel a tingling sensation or numbness in your hands and feet?
- Do you feel a perpetual widespread dull pain that seems to originate in your muscles? (This pain occurs on both sides of the body, above and below the waist.)
6. Do you experience pain when pressure is applied to the following tender points:
- Outer elbows
- Top of the shoulders
- Back of the head
- Inner knees
- Upper chest
- Between the shoulder blades
- Upper hips
- Sides of hips
- Front sides of the neck
Have you started to experience at least four of the following over the past three to six months:
- Pain in different joints at different times as if it were “traveling” from one joint to another (migratory arthralgia)
- Muscle pain or general muscle discomfort?
- Frequent, severe headaches?
- Painful lymph node areas under your arm or in the neck?
- Recurring or chronic sore throat?
- Difficulty sleeping?
- Problems with cognitive skills such as:
- memory or thinking? (commonly referred to as “fibro fog”
Additional symptoms may include:
- restless legs syndromepainful menstrual periods
- neurological symptoms and impaired coordination.
- vision problems
- dry eyes and mouth
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- irritable bowel and bladder
- Allergies and Sensitivities
Have any of the following aggravated or grew over the past three to six months?
- Sensitivity to fumes, odors or chemicals?
- Rashes or skin sensitivities?
- mold, dust, seasonal, or food allergies?
Fibromyalgia – Frequently Asked Questions
QDoes fibromyalgia get worse over time?
A Studies show that about 25% of patients gets worse over time, yet another 25% gets better. Some patients may be likely to improve because they have a good doctor willing to work with them to find which therapies they respond to. Also, as people age, other medical conditions can worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia, so it is imperative that patients look for aggressive treatment for age-related conditions, such as arthritis. A preventive medicine program with maintenance exercises and a healthy diet may prove worth while.
QCan fibromyalgia cause muscle damage?
ANo. While your muscles may be sore with fibromyalgia, there is no evidence of inflammation or damage occurring in muscles or internal organs.
Q Is fibromyalgia genetic (i.e., does it run in families)?
AFibromyalgia does run in families, but the exact genetic nature of this hereditary linkage is not yet known. Lots of research studies are under way to consider the genetic abnormalities that may be linked to various neurotransmitters involved in both pain and sleep regulation.
Q How common are headaches in fibromyalgia?
A Persistent migraine or tension-type headaches are seen in approximately 70% of fibromyalgia patients and can pose a major problem in coping for this group. For some people, aggressive treatment of the migraines also gives tremendous relief of the overall pain of fibromyalgia. A comprehensive article on the causes and treatments of headaches in people with fibromyalgia was provided in the July 2005 issue of the Fibromyalgia Network Journal.
Q Which factors worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
A The below mentioned factors can all contribute to symptom flare-ups. Repeated use of the same muscle group can strain the muscles and lead to more pain.
- cold or draft environments
- Changes in weather
- hormonal fluctuations (premenstrual and menopausal states)
- infections (flu or a cold)
- anxiety and over-exertion.
Q What is the fatigue like?
AThis symptom can range from mild to crippling. The fatigue has been described as “brain fatigue” -patients feel entirely drained of energy. Many patients say that they feel as though their arms and legs are tied to concrete blocks, and they have difficulty concentrating (i.e., brain fog).
Q Why do some doctors think that the pain is all in my head?
A Doctors cannot “see” and may not understand the sources of your pain or fatigue. However, what they do notice your anxiety and frustration with having to deal with these symptoms around-the-clock, which may wrongfully lead them to conclude that your symptoms are of a psychological nature. Also, the old school of thought regarding pain is that it is developed by tissue injury, and there is no obvious source of tissue injury in patients with fibromyalgia. Regardless, if your doctor does not believe that your symptoms are real, you owe it to yourself to find another doctor who believes in you and will work with you to help reduce your symptoms.
Q Is TMJ disorder associated with fibromyalgia?
A Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) causes tremendous jaw-related face and head pain in 25% of fibromyalgia patients. However, a 1997 published report suggested that close to 75% of fibromyalgia patients have a varying degree of jaw discomfort. Typically, the problems are related to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the jaw joint, and not necessarily the joint itself.
Q Is there any special diet for fibromyalgia?
A Not exactly, but a diet full of fruits and vegetables may provide your body with antioxidants, which are known to be helpful for protecting your tissues and to minimize the development of “other” sources of pain. Irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux are both common in people with fibromyalgia, so it is wise to avoid foods that irritate these conditions.
Q Does weather affect symptoms and, if so, what climate is best for fibromyalgia?
A Only a few studies have been conducted on this topic, and most indicate that variations in barometric pressure (which occur when a storm front moves in) may worsen the symptoms.