It’s one of those medical catch-all terms physicians use to define a collection of symptoms which can’t be clearly identified with something else like, MS (multiple sclerosis) or RA (rheumatoid arthritis).
In very basic terms, fibromyalgia means you hurt and ache from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, and all points in between. Your muscles ache, your joints ache, your bones ache, and it is so all consuming that it is difficult to walk across the room without something hurting. I’m sure most people would just call that getting old. But, fibromyalgia is a little more than that.
Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep
Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks (“fibro fog”)
Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome)
Tension or migraine headaches
Jaw and facial tenderness
Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odors, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold
Feeling anxious or depressed
Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet
Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder)
Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise
A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet
The problem is, however, that fibromyalgia “acts” like so many other diseases such as MS and RA, for example, which is why I went to the Rheumatologist in the first place. I was certain, absolutely certain I had RA, rheumatoid arthritis .
But, I didn’t.
Because I have been in so much pain for so long, and have suffered mightily with these symptoms, only to find out that I have some nebulous syndrome called fibromyalgia, I felt compelled to look into it further. And wouldn’t you know, there is some interesting data and studies that have been done which look at the connection between women in menopause and fibromyalgia diagnoses.
I ran across a report released by East Tennessee State University based on a study they did on fibromyalgia and women in menopause. It is a short, very easy to read report that you might find of some interest if you think you might have fibroymyalgia. The PDF file is here. You can download it and read it at your leisure.
I believer there is a lot to be said about women in menopause and fibromyalgia. But, unfortunately, like so many other medical conditions that women struggle with – like perimenopause for example – the average physician doesn’t know a whole lot about it.