By: Lily James
Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects nearly 5 million women and men—but mostly women—in the United States alone.
Anyone who has fibromyalgia can tell of the constant chronic pain and relentless fatigue that are two of the syndrome’s signature symptoms.
But the condition reaches beyond bodily pain and a kind of exhaustion that is not just physical, but mental and emotional as well.
There are other indications of fibromyalgia that only the sufferer has any sense of, and it presents a hefty challenge to others around them—beloved family and friends—who want to understand what they are going through.
There are even some sufferers of fibromyalgia who don’t yet know the real name of their bane.
They have the shared experiences and sufferings of other fibromyalgia patients, but have yet to be diagnosed. All they can be sure of is that they hurt.
These are some lesser known indicators of fibromyalgia. If you share in any combination of these symptoms, you might consider seeking professional diagnosis and treatment for this condition.
Unless you suffer from allodynia, it probably would never occur to you that patting a friend on the back or rubbing the shoulder of a loved one might actually cause them excruciating pain.
Allodynia is the condition of having an increased sensitivity to touch, making normal contact cause great degrees of discomfort and pain.
There are a number of different reasons that people with fibromyalgia might suffer from heightened skin sensitivity.
Chronic pain, a prevailing symptom of fibromyalgia, causes more than a third of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia to incur damage to nerve endings in their skin’s outer layers.
It is the same chronic pain that causes itself to be amplified in the brain because of maladapted neurotransmitters dedicated to the relay of pain signals.
Sometimes pharmaceuticals called NMDA receptor antagonists are prescribed to help. And only sometimes, they do.
The condition of allodynia also has connections to lacking restorative sleep. This is why exercise, physical therapy and techniques in stress reduction and relief are such common approaches in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
Heightened Sensitivity to Smell
This symptom of fibromyalgia is not far removed from the condition of allodynia because it is wrought and processed through the brain in a similar fashion.
At any given moment, there is what can be considered an overwhelming amount of sensory input received—sounds, smells and sights—that all require energy in order to separate, categorize and process in the brain.
When the brain encounters difficulty trying to sort through all the information at once, the input is reflected in heightened sensitivity responses.
Fibromyalgia treatments tend to be whole-body oriented in nature. Sometimes medication that is usually prescribed for the prevention of seizures can be used to counter these elevated sensitivities.
This serious symptom of fibromyalgia, sometimes also referred to as fibro fog, is a very distressing effect of the syndrome upon its sufferers.
It is highlighted by the inability to find or substitute words in common usage. It is accented by short-term memory loss and even sporadic episodes of utter disorientation that can last between 30 and 60 seconds with each incident.
It is not uncommon to misspeak the names of loved ones and then delay some in finding the correct name upon realizing the mistake.
Brain fog tends to find its cause in a combination of factors that includes poor sleep and sleeping habits, deficient thyroid levels, and undiagnosed infections.
An insufficient flow of blood to the brain’s temporal lobes that regulate speech is also usually a likely contributor to fibro fog.
The standard thought among rheumatologists is that getting treatment and learning better sleep habits from a qualified sleep specialist may be beneficial in thwarting this classic component of fibromyalgia.
A pricking, burning, or tickling sensation that comes from no visible source is called paresthesia. It is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, and may include numbness that seems to occur for no known reason.
Paresthesia is sometimes believed to be an anxious or nervous response to the other symptoms of fibromyalgia.
It is also sometimes characterized by deep, rapid breathing that can lead to tingling in the extremities—acroparesthesia—due to lacking carbon dioxide.
As parasthesia is considered a type of physical response to mental or emotional anxiety, it is best treated by techniques for stress reduction and relief and an adequate amount of physical exercise.
Lipomas appear to emerge as lumps in various body parts. They are really benign tumors not wholly connected to fibromyalgia, but in fibromyalgia patients, turn out to be much more sufferable than most other people.
The point here is that lipomas do not indicate the fibromyalgia syndrome, but a heightened level of discomfort because of them and the parts of the body in which they develop may be indicators instead.
When lipomas develop, they tend to grow in the areas of the body that are most susceptible to inappropriate and excessive pain.
Sufferers of the fibromyalgia syndrome tend to sweat profusely without cause. They might be led to believe that they have a fever because of the similar indicators, though no rise in body temperature has occurred.
The excessive degree of sweating is caused by dysfunction on the part of the brain, called the hypothalamus, that regulates automatic involuntary bodily functions like heart rate, gastrointestinal secretion and blood pressure.
This symptom of fibromyalgia may be treated with a combination of pharmaceutical medication and specific adaptations to lifestyle aimed to help keep patients dry and cool as often as possible.
While many of these regular symptoms of fibromyalgia may be seen as irregular and unusual, nearly all of them respond positively to general approaches in treatment.
It is always wise to be honest with your doctor about any and all symptoms that you encounter as well as their degree of seriousness.
You must work together to develop a treatment plan and re-target those areas that don’t immediately respond to your first treatment approach.