What Are the First Signs of Fibromyalgia?

Ask a Doctor

I’ve been feeling very fatigued lately. My muscles are sore, as if I’ve been working out, but I haven’t been to the gym in a month or two. A friend at work has fibromyalgia, and she said the symptoms were similar to hers. What are the first signs of fibromyalgia?

Doctor's Response

Risk factors for fibromyalgia include having a family history of fibromyalgia in a relative or family member, physical or emotional trauma, and having a sleep disorder.

The following are the symptoms that characterize fibromyalgia:

  • Pain: The most prominent symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain. Unlike arthritis, the discomfort is not in the joints, but in the muscles and ligaments. The pain is commonly located in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips. There is also diffuse tenderness, as if the sensory portions of the nervous system are extra sensitive. The tenderness is worse in the mornings and has been described as flu-like, burning, throbbing, aching, or stabbing.
  • Fatigue: Another frequent complaint associated with fibromyalgia is fatigue. In fact, it occurs so commonly that some doctors think fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are the same disease. The severity of the fatigue can range from mild to incapacitating. In its worse form, fatigue can be so debilitating that some people have trouble keeping their jobs. No amount of sleep at night or rest during the day is helpful for relief.
  • Fibrofog: Another common symptom is a mental haziness some people call fibrofog. This refers to the inability to concentrate, memory loss, and depression that occurs with fibromyalgia.
  • Other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are insomnia, headaches, nervousness, numbness, dizziness, and intestinal disturbances, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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Firestein, G.S., et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, Ninth Ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier, 2012.