Giving you a list of fibromyalgia symptoms doesn’t really give you a sense of what the symptom really means for someone or how it feels to them. The way it feels to each person can also vary, so I think it’s a good idea to describe how some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia can feel.
Widespread Pain–such pain can present itself in many ways and a person can experience it in multiple forms as well, as I do; the pain usually is over the whole body but its intensity fluctuates daily and the pain in one area can worsen more than in other areas; the pain can feel like aches, soreness, throbbing, stabbing, shooting, sharp, burning, dull, deep; those words are the best adjectives to describe the pain, but they still may not be accurate because, for example, my general all-over pain comes closest to soreness, but it doesn’t feel the same as the muscle soreness you get from working out or something; I also experience sharp and stabbing pains, dull aches, and occasional burning in various spots on my body
Fatigue–this can be difficult to explain…; generally, fatigue is exhausted times at least 5, a deep weariness in your body and mind; for me, it seems inescapable as no matter how well (usually not well) or how much (usually only a little at night) I sleep, it is still there with me, like a heavy barrier between me and the world; the level of fatigue fibromyalgia sufferers endure is usually on par with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and for some it actually is CFS
Tenderness/Sensitivity to Touch–think of how it feels to have a bruise: not only is it more painful to the touch than the rest of your skin, but also you are more aware of that area than the rest of your skin/body; in this way, so does it feel to be tender and sensitive to touch; everything hurts and feels more painful than it should; I’ve always felt as if everything I feel or touch is interpreted by my brain as pain, to some degree; my other external senses–hearing, sight, and even smell–are also extra-sensitive, sometimes making me feel like a superhero, if not for their interference in my physical comfort and ability to fall asleep; some people can’t even stand to wear tight or form-fitting clothing like jeans or pantyhose; another aspect that falls into this category is the tender points on the body that are used to semi-diagnose fibromyalgia; this means that in particular there are specific spots on the body that, when touched or subjected to pressure (such as by poking), hurt even more extremely than the fibro pain; my worst spots are in my neck, shoulders, collarbone, lower back, hips, and buttocks; related to this symptom is hypersensitivity to cold or heat, which is essentially the same as sensitivity to touch but with temperature; I deal with sensitivity to cold temperatures, particularly the cold air produced by air conditioning; when cold drafts hit my body, I immediately experience an increase in pain and my muscles begin stiffening up
Brain/Fibro Fog–in addition to the concentration, memory, and speech difficulties, it actually feels like there is a fog in or around your mind that makes it work less efficiently and makes things less clear to you; one source mentions “word-finding” difficulties, something I have intimate experience with; these cognitive speed bumps are made more severe by fatigue and especially increased pain, and mine also worsen with hunger; imagine the confusion, slower thinking ability, and lack of focus that accompany the grogginess experienced after you’ve just awakened or if you’re exhausted, multiplied by 10; an example of the memory problems I experience is that I can ask my husband a question, get his answer, and go about my business, but when the topic or related activity comes up again 20 minutes later, I’ve forgotten that I already asked him about it
These are the main hallmarks of fibromyalgia syndrome. The other symptoms that may or may not occur along with these are problems that commonly afflict people and are well-known so I won’t get into those. A good analogy for describing just how chronic pain impacts a person’s life is The Spoon Theory narrative written by Christine Miserandino over at butyoudontlooksick.com and I encourage you to check it out. I hope that this post further helps you to understand what it is like to have fibro and therefore show more consideration to those who you know that have it. And anyone who does have it, feel free to add your own descriptions and illustrations below!