Other Symptoms Of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia has such a wide range of symptoms and associated changes in health conditions that it is sometimes difficulty to know if the symptoms you are experiencing are related to fibromyalgia or something else. There certainly are concurrent medical conditions that people with fibromyalgia can have that may show the same symptoms. Having a full evaluation from a rheumatologist or doctor that specializes in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other types of chronic pain syndromes will help determine if the medical issues you are experiencing are due to your fibromyalgia or something else.

The following list is by no means all inclusive, but it does provide some of the most common health issues that are found as symptoms with fibromyalgia. As they are so diverse they may not be initially identified as resulting from the diagnosis. Treating each of these symptoms separately may be an option if you just have one or two, but when multiple health issues occur at one time finding more holistic approaches is often the best option.

Weather Sensitivity

Weather can adversely impact the severity of the pain, stiffness and fatigue noted with fibromyalgia. It can also trigger headaches, different types of muscle pain, increased joint pain and greater difficulty in sleeping. Typically weather extremes, either heat or cold, are the major triggers. Other people report that air pressure, high winds, changes in humidity, rain and snow can also change how they experience their fibromyalgia symptoms.

While this may seem a difficult connection to prove, studies conducted in a variety of countries have shown a positive connection between weather changes and reported severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. In a recent questionnaire type study, 2,491 individuals completed self evaluations on pain, sleep quality, exercise and mood. The researchers also compared data at local weather stations for the same date that reported hours of sunshine, temperature, precipitation and air pressure. The results showed that people generally reported less pain on days with more than 5.8 hours of sunshine and with an average temperature of greater than 17.5 degrees Celsius. In addition, on these same days the quality of sleep was reported as better as was mood and exercise levels. 1

Headaches

Headaches are very common with individuals dealing with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. These can be dull, chronic types of headaches, or they can be migraine headaches that last short or long durations. Many headaches associated with fibromyalgia are related to chronic neck and back pain and the hypersensitivity of the central nervous system to pain.

Migraine headaches are known to be linked to stress, which in turn is linked to lowered blood flow to the brain due to vasoconstriction. Migraines can sometimes be accompanied by periods of anxiety, depression, light and sound sensitivity, nausea, vision changes, dizziness or extreme fatigue.

Headaches for people with fibromyalgia may be related to:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chronic pain
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)
  • Magnesium deficiencies
  • Depleted levels of serotonin
  • Medications

New research into the range of symptoms associated with fibromyalgia indicates that changes in the intestinal absorption of proteins, especially common in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia, may contribute to sleep issues, headaches and muscle weakness that are all hallmark symptoms of the condition. This malabsorption of proteins and trace elements may also contribute to deficiencies in the body that may be linked to increased headaches. 2 Like fibromyalgia, migraines often have triggers that initiate the headache. Thing such as dark chocolate and bright light have been found to be triggers for many migraine sufferers. Trying to identify migraine triggers may allow you to avoid those triggers and prevent the headache from ever occurring.

Tingling In The Hands And Feet

Tingling in the hands and feet is often associated with neuropathy and diabetes. However, it can also occur in fibromyalgia when the nerves are firing rapidly and are hypersensitive to any type of stimuli. This can be accompanied by muscle twitching or spasms in the smaller as well as larger muscles of the body.

These symptoms may be made worse by stress, muscle fatigue, muscle weakness, some types of medications and any type of stimulant including caffeine. Often routine non-strenuous exercise, relaxation techniques, muscle massage and medications can be used to help reduce these symptoms.

Tinnitus

Tinnitus or ringing in the ears may be a result of mixed messages in the somatosensory system that causes the individuals to “hear” noise that simply is not there. It also is much more common in people over the age of 55 and with individuals that have a history of exposure to loud sounds or chronic types of noise in a workplace environment. It can also be a direct result of specific types of injury to the ears or to various medications. Occasionally it can be caused by ear infections or allergies.

Studies into the use of an ancient Chinese mind-body exercise, Qigong, has shown positive results in both treating tinnitus and reducing overall levels of stress. Patients that had tinnitus that lasted at least 3 months were divided into an exercise group that completed 10 Qigong sessions in 5 weeks and a control group that did not complete Qigong. The group that completed the Qigong training reported less significant impact of the tinnitus and greatly reduced stress levels.3

While tinnitus itself is not a health issue it can lead to sleep problems, increase stress and create greater anxiety. These issues in turn can contribute to increased problems with pain, sleep and fatigue, all major concerns for those with fibromyalgia.

References

1 Macfarlane, T. V., McBeth, J., Jones, G. T., & et al. (2010). Whether the weather influences pain? Results from the EpiFunD study in North West England. Rheumatology , 1513-1520.

2 Koutoubi, s., Cartmel, J. W., Kestin, M., & Lecovin, G. (2007). Protein nutrition in fibromyalgia. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome , 47-58.

3 Biesinger, E., Kipman, U., Shatz, S., & Langguth, B. (2010). Qigong for the treatment of tinnitus: A prospective randomized controlled study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research , 299-304.

This article was originally published on July 11, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/7/2015