Friday, May 28, 2010

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Checklist

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Checklist

You've probably read about fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, fatigue and fibro fog, but the list of possible signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia are far-reaching and body-wide. The following "monster list" of fibromyalgia symptoms is adapted from one put together by leading fibromyalgia expert Devin Starlanyl.
Many of these fibromyalgia symptoms also can be caused by other ailments and this list isn't intended as a diagnostic tool. Knowing the full range of symptoms, however, can help you track them either to help your doctor diagnose you properly or to help you identify triggers.
Some of the following are noted as overlapping conditions, which means they commonly occur with fibromyalgia but actually are conditions that need to be diagnosed and treated separately.
People with fibromyalgia can have any combination of the following symptoms, and to varying degrees of severity.


General Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Delayed reactions to physical exertion or stressful events
  • Other family members with fibromyalgia (genetic predisposition)
  • Sweats
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Cravings for carbohydrate and chocolate
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Vision changes, including rapidly worsening vision

Muscle & Tissue-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Sinus & Allergy-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Sleep-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Light and/or broken sleep pattern with unrefreshing sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep starts (falling sensations)
  • Twitchy muscles at night
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Reproductive Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Menstrual problems
  • PMS (as an overlapping condition)
  • Loss of libido
  • Impotence

Abdominal & Digestive Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Bloating & nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Pelvic pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (as an overlapping condition)
  • Urinary frequency

Cognitive/Neurological Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Difficulty speaking known words, other language impairments (dysphasia)
  • Directional disorientation
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Paresthesias in the upper limbs (tingling or burning sensations)
  • Loss of ability to distinguish some shades of colors
  • Short-term memory impairment
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Staring into space before brain "kicks in"
  • Inability to recognize familiar surroundings

Sensory Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Sensitivity to odors
  • Sensitivity to pressure changes, temperature & humidity
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Night driving difficulty
  • Sensory overload

Emotional Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Panic attacks
  • Depression (as an overlapping condition)
  • Tendency to cry easily
  • Free-floating anxiety (not associated with situation or object)
  • Mood swings
  • Unaccountable irritability

Heart-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Mitral valve prolapse (as an overlapping condition)
  • Rapid, fluttery, irregular heartbeat
  • Pain that mimics heart attack, frequently from costochondritis (as an overlapping condition)

Skin, Hair & Nail-Related Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Pronounced nail ridges
  • Nails that curve under
  • Mottled skin
  • Bruising or scaring easily
  • Hair loss (temporary)
  • Tissue overgrowth (non-cancerous tumors called lipomas, ingrown hairs, heavy and splitting cuticles, adhesions)

Miscellaneous Fibromyalgia Symptoms

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Nose bleeds
2004 Devin J. Starlanyl. All rights reserved. "Fibromyalgia (FMS) and Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) For Doctors and Other Health Care Providers."

New Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia

New Diagnostic Criteria for Fibromyalgia!

By Adrienne Dellwo, Guide to Fibromyalgia & CFS

Tender-point exams are no longer the only way to diagnose fibromyalgia -- the American College of Rheumatology has provisionally accepted alternate criteria for diagnosing the condition and gauging the severity of symptoms.
The diagnostic criteria doctors have been using were established in 1990.  Once other possible causes of symptoms were eliminated, diagnosis was based purely upon pain.  It had to be on both sides of the body, both above and below the waist, along the axial skeleton (head, throat, chest, spine), and also in at least 11 of 18 specific spots on the body that are called tender points.  Symptoms have to have been present for at least 3 months.
The tender-point exam has always been controversial for several reasons.  First, it was originally intended as a qualifier for clinical studies, not as a diagnostic tool.  Second, it's subjective because it relies on a patient's self-reported pain.  Third, because symptoms fluctuate so much, the number of tender points may vary greatly from one exam to another.
Until we have a diagnostic test that's based on blood markers or imaging, we probably won't have a perfect diagnostic test.  (This is true of many diseases, especially neurological ones.)  Still, researchers believe they've come up with something that works better -- they say when the looked at a group of previously diagnosed fibromyalgia patients, the tender-point exam was about 75% accurate, while their criteria caught it 88% of the time.
New Diagnostic Criteria
The new criteria keep the requirements that other causes be ruled out and that symptoms have to have persisted for at least 3 months.  They also includes 2 new methods of assessment, the widespread pain index (WPI) and the symptom severity (SS) scale score.
The WPI lists 19 areas of the body and you say where you've had pain in the last week.  You get 1 point for each area, so the score is 0-19.
For the SS scale score, the patient ranks specific symptoms on a scale of 0-3.  These symptoms include:
  • Fatigue
  • Waking unrefreshed
  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Somatic (physical) symptoms in general (such as headache, weakness, bowel problems, nausea, dizziness, numbness/tingling, hair loss)
The numbers assigned to each are added up, for a total of 0-12.
This next part is really interesting to me.  Instead of looking for a hard score on each, there's some flexibility built in, which recognizes the fact that fibromyalgia impacts us all differently, and that symptoms can fluctuate.
For a diagnosis you need EITHER:
  1. WPI of at least 7 and SS scale score of at least 5, OR
  2. WPI of 3-6 and SS scale score of at least 9.
What this does is allow for people with fewer painful areas but more severe symptoms to be diagnosed.
Something else I really like about this is that it finally includes cognitive symptoms!  For many of us, "fibro fog" is as debilitating or even more debilitating than pain, yet the old criteria didn't even mention it.  It also recognizes the difference between "fatigue" and "waking unrefreshed," which I believe is an under-recognized distinction in the medical community.
A quick note about "somatic symptoms": strictly speaking, somatic means physical.  The term has gotten a bad rap in the fibromyalgia community because it's been used to suggest our symptoms are the result of somatization, which means "physical manifestations of a psychological illness."  On its own, however, the word somatic does not imply a psychological basis.
The full article on the new criteria isn't yet available for free online, but a PDF of an appendix including these criteria is.  It has the list of painful areas for the WPI and a long list of somatic symptoms that could be considered.  It's here:
If you're undiagnosed or tentatively diagnosed, you may want to take that to your doctor.  Be sure to let him/her know that it's from the American College of Rheumatology and was published in Arthritis Care & Research.
What do you think of the new criteria?  Will they help clear up controversy and confusion?  Do you like the built-in flexibility?  Leave your comments below!

Free E-Book: Seven Simple Strategies To Combat Fibromyalgia

Seven Simple Strategies To Combat Fibromyalgia
By Deirdre Rawlings PhD, N.D., M.H., C.N.C

"Start getting a handle on your FMS in the next five minutes..."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Subscrible via email alerts

Now available: 
Get an email with all future updates to the blog. Enter email and click the link on the top right area that says;
"Blog Updates Via Email"

Quote for the day

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fibromyalgia Awareness Blogs - Awareness Day Event May 12th

Fibromyalgia Awareness Blogs:

May 12th Fibromyalgia Awareness Day INFORMATION

Fibromyagia - The Basic Info by

Quick Fact Sheet: 

Fibromyalgia Fact Sheet

Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans. While it occurs most often in women, it strikes men and children, and all ethnic backgrounds. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia (FM) can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.

  • The FM diagnostic criteria, established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender points when a specified amount of pressure is applied.
  • Since people with FM tend to look healthy and conventional tests are typically normal, a physician knowledgeable about the disorder is necessary to make a diagnosis.
  • Physicians should rule out other causes of the symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.
  • Although chronic, widespread body pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia, a variety of other symptoms are common in FM patients. Symptoms include: moderate to severe fatigue, sleep disorders, problems with cognitive functioning, IBS, headaches and migraines, anxiety and depression, and environmental sensitivities.
  • Research has documented neuroendocrine physiological abnormalities that may contribute to the symptoms.
  • Recent research has suggested a genetic component. The disorder is often seen in families, among siblings or mothers and their children.
  • Fibromyalgia often occurs following a physical trauma, such as an acute illness or injury, which may act as a “trigger” in the development of the disorder.
  • Increasing attention is being devoted to the central nervous system as the underlying mechanism of FM. Recent studies have suggested that FM patients have generalized disturbance in pain processing and an amplified response to stimuli that would not ordinarily be painful in healthy individuals.
  • Since there is no known cure for FM, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving function.
  • A variety of prescription medications are often used to reduce pain levels and improve sleep. On June 21, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lyrica (pregabalin) as the first drug to treat fibromyalgia. Cymbalta (duloxetine HCl) was approved in June 2008; and Savella (milnacipran HCl) was approved in January 2009.
  • Alternative therapies, such as massage, myofasical release, acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal supplements and yoga, can be effective tools in managing FM symptoms.
  • Increasing rest, pacing activities, reducing stress, practicing relaxation and improving nutrition can help minimize symptoms and improve quality of life.
National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) is a nonprofit [501 (c) (3)] organization    (714) 921-0150

May 12th Fibromyalgia Awareness Day Ribbon

May 12th Fibromyalgia Awareness Day