Checklist for fibromyalgia symptoms.
Last updated: 18/11/2020
Welcome my friend. I wanted to provide you with a checklist for fibromyalgia symptoms because my wife suffers from this disease and as her husband, I always wanted to learn how to help her the best way I could.
Aside from fibromyalgia, M also suffers from endometriosis.
Primarily she was diagnosed with endometriosis and fibromyalgia was just another physiological process that affected her afterward.
While my wife experienced pain on and off for many years in the past, the pain used to be located in her pelvic area. Over time, the pain has progressed to her legs, spine, eventually becoming widespread.
Her pain became more consistent, eventually becoming a daily struggle.
Multiple medical conditions...
But how common is it to be struggling with multiple medical conditions?
When it comes to chronic illness, many women experience just that.
Women with both fibromyalgia and endometriosis have a higher risk of having other autoimmune diseases such as IBS and chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, or depression as well as more hospitalizations.
As it happens, my wife so far experienced all of them, as well, as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. She has other gastric problems like acid reflux and heartburn, she also suffers from Iron and Magnesium deficiency.
Women who were diagnosed with endometriosis after surgery reported a high prevalence of fibromyalgia. That was the case with my wife. The trauma of endometriosis brought fibromyalgia.
According to researches from Southwest Spine and Pain Center, “women with endometriosis were twice as likely to have fibromyalgia than those who did not have the condition.
In the endometriosis community, I’ve met many women who suffer from fibromyalgia and endometriosis simultaneously.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.
Endometriosis can affect women of any age. It’s a life-long illness that can have a significant impact on your life in many ways.
It is an awful condition affecting 1 in 10 women around the world. In many cases, it is the cause of infertility.
But why do I brag about endometriosis when the subject of this article is the checklist of fibromyalgia symptoms?
Well, as you have noticed, I mentioned infertility, and infertility is a big problem. It was definitely a problem for me and my wife. Endometriosis is the reason for us not having children.
Imagine a doctor telling you that you will never be able to have kids. How would that make you feel?
Traumatic! To say the least.
Not only the woman is affected by a sudden illness, but also her partner. Many women with endometriosis suffer and relationships are broken because men leave their partners, which makes it more traumatic for these women.
They also struggle to find another partner because not many men want to be with women who will never be able to give them kids.
Additionally, sex is quite often extremely painful for women with endometriosis, and that drives men away too.
Endometriosis brought a tremendous shock upon my wife and became the reason why she developed fibromyalgia.
So, before we talk about the signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia, we have to ask one question.
What causes fibromyalgia?
What causes fibromyalgia?
What causes any chronic illness for that matter?
The answer is simple – trauma.
According to Dr. Gabor Maté, the majority of chronic illnesses originate from childhood trauma. That also applies to fibromyalgia because chronic illness isn’t a random event.
We know from science that the mind and body can’t be separated. I always say that physical and mental health, both impact one another, and both should never be seen as separate.
If you or your partner suffer from fibromyalgia, I urge you to read the book “When the Body Says No – The Cost of Hidden Stress” written by Dr. Gabor Maté.
Dr. Gabor Maté explores in the book the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, even fibromyalgia and endometriosis.
He is a retired physician who, after 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, worked for over a decade with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness.
His book explores the role of the mind-body link in various chronic conditions. It is about the body saying no to stresses in life that people haven’t dealt with when needed to.
This book asks questions such as:
- • How much your loved ones stress you take on?
- • How much of a people pleaser are you?
- • How nice are you to people no matter how you feel?
- • How much do you take on the problems of other people and ignore your own?
- • How well do you know yourself?
- • Do you treat yourself well?
All these questions perfectly apply to my wife! I wonder if you can relate to them too?
Overview of fibromyalgia:
Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes widespread pain around your body and extreme tiredness.
Symptoms of this chronic illness vary from person to person, but again, the main symptom is always pain all over the body.
People say that it’s not clear what causes fibromyalgia. But I disagree. It can often start after a stressful event like an injury, illness, or even the death of a loved one. Either way, we come back to the same reason – trauma…
Talking about a checklist of fibromyalgia symptoms it’s important to point out other symptoms such as tiredness, depression, and brain fog.
Brain fog is also known as fibromyalgia fog and fibro-fog. Scientists don’t have a full picture of its causes, but treating sleeping problems, depression, fatigue, and chronic pain can improve symptoms.
Because you cannot treat chronic illness with the mentality of other, short-term diseases. You cannot treat chronic pain with the mentality of acute pain treatment.
When diagnosing, doctors may not immediately consider fibromyalgia when evaluating these types of symptoms, because pain is also common with many other conditions, such as endometriosis or even CFS.
That’s one reason why it takes an average of five years for people with fibromyalgia to get diagnosed and seven to eight years on average, to get diagnosed with endometriosis.
Knowing the type and location of pain you have, may help your doctor diagnose you earlier. The faster you get diagnosed, the sooner you can get started on a treatment to relieve your symptoms.
But as it was in the case of my wife, it took a while for her to pinpoint exactly where, and what kind of pain she felt at any moment.
My wife used to get frustrated trying to explain her pain, my lack of understanding wasn’t helpful either. After all, I’m a man, and I don’t experience what she’s going through.
One day, I came up with an idea and created a body map on which M could draw the pain that she felt.
To illustrate that I will provide you with her own drawings. The first one was blank and ready to be filled:
Second one M marked with endometriosis pain:
The third one resembled fibromyalgia pain:
Lastly, I combined both overlapping each other to reveal how much pain my wife was really going through:
I decided to give away my Chronic Pain Body Map along with another gift – Endometriosis Pain and Symptoms Tracker. They are both FREE, and you can access them within a click of a button below.
So, you don’t have to struggle with endless explanations of how terrible you feel!
Why should you?
All in the self-explanatory Chronic Pain Bundle is easy to fill in.
You can show it to your doctor, family, friends. All the people that never believed you, can be now proven wrong.
The Mini Chronic Pain Bundle includes:
- Endometriosis Pain & Symptoms Tracker.
- Chronic Pain Body Map.
Pain and tenderness in muscles and joints throughout your body can shift from place to place, but to meet the criteria for a diagnosis, the person needs to have experienced pain for at least three months to be considered chronic.
Such pain must also be in a specific number of body parts and be above a specific severity score. Important is that you do not have other conditions such as arthritis or endometriosis, that could explain the pain.
Fibromyalgia causes a number of other symptoms, such as fatigue lack of energy trouble sleeping depression or anxiety memory problems, and fibro-fog (trouble with concentrating).
Headaches, muscle twitches, cramps, numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, itching, burning, and other skin problems can be the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Pain belongs to the most severe symptoms and can be very intense, and constant. It can be so severe that keeps you home from work and other activities. But again, it can be the same for endometriosis.
Fibromyalgia can also cause intense emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Fatigue can have one of the biggest impacts on your mental health.
Constant fatigue affects more than 90% of people with fibromyalgia. It isn’t usual tiredness. It can actually cause very serious exhaustion, draining your body of energy, turning even the simplest activity into a chore.
Some people with fibromyalgia experience also uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as IBS.
These symptoms are diarrhea with or without constipation, belly pain, belly-bloating due to gas, and nausea.
Up to 70% of people notice regular tension or migraine headaches, which are often extremely severe.
More unusual symptoms of fibromyalgia are symptoms that you might not expect, but they can still occur:
- • excess sweating
- • easy bruising
- • swelling
- • sensitivity to noise
- • sensitivity to light
- • sensitivity to temperature
- • jaw pain
- • chest pain
- • bladder pain
- • urgent need to urinate
- • food allergies
- • stuffed nose
- • wheezing
- • vomiting
How can fibromyalgia pain differ from other types of pain?
Fibromyalgia pain is widespread, it is located in your muscles and other soft tissues like joints.
Its uniqueness is that this kind of pain affects various sites all over the body.
As we mentioned before, the mind and body cannot be separated, and so pain is intensified because of the way your brain processes it. If you are stressed or not plays a very important role.
It is important for you to recognize is the relationship between stress and pain.
What we all know about life is that it can be very stressful. Sometimes more often than we wished to. You can not get a pill for that. No pill will make stress go away, because stress often doesn’t come from you, but from the environment and actions of other people.
Stress and pain.
Stress is just a part of life!
It is important to know that stress can influence the way you experience pain.
We can differentiate stress. For example, we can see the difference between being stressed by a barking dog, or by having an argument with a family member. But to the body stress is stress, and it will always activate the sympathetic system.
In the case of fibromyalgia pain, stress worsens its condition.
But this is just one aspect of pain – your own stressors. Let’s not forget about other stressors – your life, work, family, friends, finances, hobbies, etc… It all adds up causing poorer diet, lack of sleep, relationship issues.
This vicious cycle is very common. I’m sure your partner or yourself experienced that. Pain can easily get out of control!
Fibromyalgia pain can be in the neck, middle, or lower back, arms, legs, shoulders, hips.
Everyone’s experience with fibromyalgia pain is always different. For example, in the beginning, my wife felt spread pain in only the right side of her body. Later on, it became widespread, affecting both sides.
Some people feel the pain only in certain muscles, other people experience pain all over the body. The quality of such pain also differs from person to person. It may be:
- • throbbing
- • aching
- • burning
- • shooting
- • stabbing
- • soreness
- • stiffness
Its intensity can vary and may depend on the time of day, and the activity. Some people have worse pain in the morning, others after they exercise.
In order to diagnose fibromyalgia properly, your doctor – rheumatologist, will search for 18 pain points on your body that are tender and sensitive to touch.
Diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be difficult because pain is very personal, and your discomfort might not necessarily be the same for someone else. That’s why doctors meant to check for certain tender points on your body when it comes to diagnosing fibromyalgia.
These 18 points seem like a big number but think of them as 9 pairs. These points tend to be painful when pressed and may spread to other parts of your body.
Let’s list these fibromyalgia tender points:
- 1. The back of your neck. If you have fibromyalgia, you may have tender points at the back of your neck.
- 2. Your elbows. Fibromyalgia patients may also feel tenderness on their forearms, near their elbows.
- 3. The front of your neck. The doctor will check your potential fibromyalgia pain at the front of the neck, located above your collarbone, on either side.
- 4. Your pelvis. Hip pain is common and people with fibromyalgia have a tender point near where the buttock muscles curve to join the thighs.
- 5. Lower back. The lower back area is one of the most common body parts to be the source of pain. However, people with fibromyalgia may have pain trigger points at the very top of the buttocks, right at the bottom of the lower back.
- 6. Knees. While knee pain is common in people with fibromyalgia, the inside of each knee pad may feel tender to the touch.
- 7. Upper back. Tender points are often in places of the body where tendons and muscles meet.
- 8. Shoulders. Additionally, tenderness is in the upper back, but some people with fibromyalgia have tender points just above that, halfway between the edge of the shoulder and the bottom of the neck.
- 9. Your chest. People with fibromyalgia may also have tender points on either side of the sternum, a few inches below the collarbone.
Stress, lack of sleep, even weather can affect fibromyalgia pain.
Treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms:
As you have noticed, it says “treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms” because fibromyalgia cannot be treated directly as an illness. Like I mentioned before – you cannot treat the illness, you treat it by targeting its symptoms.
You must focus on all the aspects of your life that are affected by chronic pain, like your work, family, friends, sex, finances, hobbies, etc…
Ideally, as it was in the case of my M, physical therapy works magic in combination with Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.
Common components of psychological therapy are:
- • Pacing of activities.
- • Pain & stress physiology.
- • Relaxation training.
- • Sleep hygiene.
- • Identifying stressors.
- • Stress management.
- • Pain flare-ups management.
Fibromyalgia pain affects many aspects of your life, in return – the affected areas of your life impact your pain. It’s a never-ending cycle.
People are told by their doctors, who are wrongly thought by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that treating fibromyalgia can be done with drugs…
But again – you cannot treat chronic pain with the mentality of acute pain treatment. It doesn’t last, you get addicted to drugs, your drug resistance grows, you increase the risk of overdose.
FDA comes up all the time with fancy names for drugs to get your attention, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), or pregabalin (Lyrica).
They work by altering levels of chemicals in your brain and spinal cord that control the transmission of pain signals. I don’t disagree, drugs are fantastic! But they are a great solution for acute pain, not chronic pain!
Relaxation therapies such as CBT, meditation, mindfulness, pilates, yoga, and tai chi are the best way to treat chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia. Also, try to exercise as much and as often as you can. That helps my wife.
Although it might hurt at first, if you stick with light fitness, like walking or bike riding, you will eventually strengthen your muscles and reduce pain.
You can start slowly and gradually increase your intensity, but exercise only when you feel good and ready for it. Don’t push it!
Sleep and overall rest play a big role in fibromyalgia. A lack of sleep can make you feel worse. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, try to avoid or at least limit caffeine and other stimulants (like TV or radio before bed.
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. It will allow your body to get into its natural rhythm.
When talking about the checklist for fibromyalgia symptoms, pain is the most obvious. Sometimes it is also the most difficult symptom of fibromyalgia to deal with.
To recap, other symptoms like poor concentration, fatigue, depression, or anxiety can also have a big impact on your life.
The best thing you can do is to keep track of your symptoms in a diary so you can accurately report them to your doctor. I summarized a checklist for fibromyalgia symptoms in the FREE printable sample below:
If you found this article helpful, you can rest assured that this printable checklist for fibromyalgia symptoms won’t disappoint!
Who are we anyway?
After years of trial and error, professional help, and some brutal honesty, we have found a way to keep our marriage healthy.
Despite chronic illness, pain, and mental health struggles, which made our relationship extremely challenging, we found a way of making things work.
But still, we fell flat on our faces, and from the verge of losing my wife, to a joyful & loving marriage, we found a way of making things work!
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