Pain

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibro is immediately associated with pain as it is one of the predominant symptoms. However, long term chronic pain causes long term damage to our health. It’s not just the odd headache here and there and a bit of back or joint pain. It is a total onslaught of the central nervous system and it affects everything!

Pain Threshold

Pain threshold is not the same as pain tolerance. People with Fibro have often experienced and learned to live with chronic pain for years. The length of time can help to increase the pain tolerance which is not the same as the pain threshold. Pain threshold is used to describe the moment in which symptoms that elicit pain occur, this tends to be more rapid and intense for Fibro sufferers.

There are over 7 different types of pain. Some wide spread, some localised some rotating round your body. Pain in whichever form is always there 24/7 it is regularly exacerbated into a flare by the slightest stress or trying to do simple tasks like preparing food, walking, or reaching for an item that you have dropped. Sufferers of fibromyalgia can often be sensitive to environmental factors including, noise, smell, visual, barometric (pressure) and motion. These can regularly trigger further symptoms such as chronic fatigue, allergies, inflamed glands and other symptoms that resemble those that you might experience during a flu infection.

Hyperalgesia ( ‘Hyper’ – excess, ‘algesia’ – pain )

A medical term that is used to define the amplification of pain regularly experienced with fibro. The brain is believed to process and amplify normal pain signals to a point that makes impulses more severe than they would otherwise be to a person who doesn’t have fibro.

Paresthesia

A reference to a prickly and sometimes burning sensation commonly felt in the regions of the hands, arms, legs and feet. It can sometimes occur in other parts of the body, the onset of sensation is usually without warning. Some patients describe a tingling or numbness that resembles a skin crawling or itching feeling.

Allodynia

If you can recall the pain experienced by a case of bad sunburn, then you will understand ‘allodynia’; when a person’s skin is simply painful to any touch. There are a few other conditions other than fibro where this condition occurs: migraine, neuropathy and shingles.

The hypersensitive reaction that is allodynia is thought to be a result from the central sensitisation linked with fibro. Specialised nerves called nociceptors, responsible for sensing information such as temperature and physical pressure directly through the skin, send impulses to the brain.

Migratory Pain

Affecting different parts of the body at different times, sufferers describe symptoms that include throbbing, muscular aches, burning, shooting, sharp and stabbing pains. The pain can also resemble flu like symptoms; it is common in people enduring fibromyalgia and forms of arthritis.

Voodoo Doll Pain

Of course, this is not a medical name, nonetheless people with Fibromyalgia know the term ‘knife in the voodoo doll pain’ when used to describe an intense stabbing pain that is felt either in the chest or abdomen and occasionally other regions of the body. The pain is sometimes so intense as to cause a person to double over, making it painful to breathe.

Sparkler Burns

Similar to pin-pricks of pain, when affected areas are scratched, they can trigger tactile allodynia. Sparkler burns are categorised as a hypersensitivity to pain and touch.

Rattled Nerves

Dizziness, anxiety, nausea with overall ache throughout the body; can be set off by (MCS) multiple chemical sensitivity.

Neuropathic Pain

Whilst there are no objective findings of nerve trauma from a physical exam, people with fibro odd nerve sensations similar to skin crawling, tingling, burning, itching or numbness in the arms and legs; these sensations can sometimes be painful. Neuropathic pain does not appear to affect strength, reflexes or sensations from their norms.

You are not alone! Fibro sufferers can feel very isolated when enduring a constant state of flu like symptoms or when their bodies hurt all over. Soft tissue, diffuse and persistent muscle pain (myofascial pain) can be like an invasive gnawing soreness along with aches and stiffness all over the body core as well as the limbs, neck and shoulders.

Common afflictions experienced by a person with Fibro:

  • Low back pain that can sometimes radiate into the buttocks and legs

  • A migrating pain that moves across the back of the shoulders causing a tightness in affected region

  • With symptoms suggesting costochondritis, a person can experience pain in the chest wall

Joint Pain

A sensation of swelling and aching in the joint regions are common people with Fibro

With inflammatory arthritis, sufferers tend to suffer actual joint swelling and inflammation, this does not occur in Fibro. This fact is a primary determinant separating out diseases such as systemic lupus, erythematosus and RA whereby the joints of an individual can readily be seen as swollen.

Shoulder Pain

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body and because there are many other bones and muscles around the shoulder, it is more susceptible to spreading and affecting the surrounding areas. Poor posture can also occur to avoid the pain; this commonly leads to myofascial symptoms occurring in the trapezius muscle. Wearing clothes with labels on the back of the neck, heavy on the shoulders/ neck can be very irritating.

Hand Pain

We use our hands for almost everything we do. With Fibromyalgia they let us down quite frequently. 

Symptoms include:

Difficulty gripping items such as pens, artist’s brushes and keys
It feels like the strength has just disappeared. Writing becomes difficult and painful and the pen can just fall out of your hand. Losing sensation in your hands is especially annoying when you struggle with everyday tasks like unlocking the door, when your keys just keep falling out of your hands!

Nerve related feelings all over the hands and into the fingers
Trigger points around the shoulder can also radiate pain into the forearms and hands. You may have restlessness in your hands where you feel the need to tap or move your hands and fingers.

It feels like pins and needles almost all the time and it spreads up your forearms. Typing even with the lightest pressure on the keyboard can send a cascade of pain from the point of contact up the digits, into the hands and up into the arms.

Pain in the palms and the backs of the hands
This can worsen during a flare. The hands swell frequently, however this is none inflammatory.

Tendon pain and Fascia Constriction symptoms
This can be increased by repetition and changes in the weather.

Foot Pain

Walking might be difficult when experiencing burning sensations in both the tops and bottoms of the feet. Facia constriction, nerve pain influenced by trigger points can lead to this pain and in some cases make the wearing of shoes very uncomfortable.

A form of physical therapy known as MFR – myofascial release (muscle pain release) when there is pain build-up from periods of inactivity or constriction, usually caused from sitting or lying in a single position for an extended period of time. This type of therapy will be affected by the individual’s tolerance.

Some people claim that the wearing of copper woven nylon compression ankle sleeves help to relieve the pain due to the retention of heat from the body into the copper fibres. At this time there is no full conclusive evidence to support this as absolute fact.

Mineral deficiency, fascia constriction and nerve related pain can lead onto restless, painful legs and feet that numerous Fibro sufferers experience.

Programmes and activities that Fibro Active offer to help manage your symptoms

Fibro Active have several programmes and activities that can help you with your symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  We focus on a healthy lifestyle, gentle exercise and sharing information whilst supporting it's members to accept and manage their illness in a positive and friendly atmosphere.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi for Arthritis is designed to enable people to be active when they are unable to participate in other forms of exercise. For more information as well as times and dates please visit our Tai Chi page.

Space to Think

We offer funded 1 to 1 emotional support sessions with a facilitator from Open Minds, a local Nottingham based charity. These sessions are open to group members and our Tai Chi students. 

ActiveAte

A new and fun interactive educational nutrition programme that aims to support those with living with Fibromyalgia and other related health conditions.