Anyone with fibromyalgia is familiar with the chronic pain and fatigue that often accompany this disease – which affects about 5 million Americans, mostly women.
But feelings of pain and tiredness are not the only symptoms of fibromyalgia. Other signs that are not necessarily visible to others can affect the victim and make the condition even more difficult for those around them to understand.
Here are some of the lesser known signs of fibromyalgia that you may experience:
# 1 allodynia
You may not give a second thought to rubbing the shoulders of a loved one or a friend pat on the back. But for someone with allodynia, being the recipient of these simple gestures can result in unbearable pain. Allodynia is an increase in sensitivity to the touch, resulting in pain of things that normally do not cause discomfort.
“This increased sensitivity of the skin and contact pain is hypothesized to occur for several reasons,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. “More than one-third of people with fibromyalgia develop a small fiber neuropathy caused by chronic pain. In addition, chronic pain causes amplification of pain signals in the brain itself, as well as changes in three key pain-related neurotransmitters “Dr. Teitelbaum says drugs known as NMDA receptor antagonists. Memantina (Namenda) is one – can help.
# 2 fibronie
It is also called “brain fog”, this is a very serious fibromyalgia symptom that leaves many people at risk. “Mental fog or fibro fog is a classic component of the energy crisis we call fibromyalgia,” says Teitelbaum. Some of the common symptoms of fibro fog include a difficulty finding words with or replacement, short-term memory loss, and occasionally even episodic disorientation that lasts for about 30 to 60 seconds. “With this illness, calling the husband by the name of another man is not a failed act,” says Teitelbaum. Explain that there is no single cause for fibro fog; Rather, it can be caused by a combination of many factors including low thyroid levels, lack of sleep, hidden infections such as Candida, and alterations in the blood flow to the temporal lobes of the brain, which regulate speech.
Stephen Soloway, MD, a rheumatologist in private practice in Vineland, New Jersey, attributes much of the difficulties with foggy fibro sleeping problems that affect people with fibromyalgia. Practicing good sleep hygiene and getting help from a sleep specialist can be helpful.
# 3 Paresthesia
Paresthesia is an unexplained sensation of tingling and numbness that people with fibromyalgia may experience. Often, it is related to anxiety or nervousness about the disorder and can be accompanied by rapid and deep breathing. This in turn can lead to acroparesthesia, a tingling sensation in the hands and feet of lack of carbon dioxide. Given that anxiety is a major player in paresthesia, the stress relief techniques recommended for patients with fibromyalgia may help. Exercise can also play a role in treatment.
# 4 Lipomas
These benign tumors of fat may appear as lumps in various parts of the body that are not directly related to fibromyalgia, but may cause you to experience more discomfort than the average person. This may be related to the place where lipomas develop – parts of the body that are susceptible to excessive or inadequate pain that patients experience, explains Elliot Rosenstein, MD, director of the Institute of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey “Alternatively, these may be fibro-fatty nodules or localized areas of muscle spasm.”
# 5 excessive sweating
Some people with fibromyalgia perspire a lot and may even believe they have a fever. This is due to what is called an autonomic dysfunction in the hypothalamus, the area-size of an almond in the brain that controls sleep and regulates sweating, bowel movements, and other automatic functions of the body. “Autonomic dysfunction causes increased sweating,” says Teitelbaum. Some medications and lifestyle changes that can keep you cool and dry can help with this symptom of fibromyalgia.
Many of these unusual fibromyalgia symptoms respond to general treatment approaches. If not, talk to your doctor about specific recommendations that may help.