Fibromyalgia is a disorder of widespread musculoskeletal pain that is accompanied by fatigue, memory issues, mood disorders, and sleep problems. There is no cure for this disease, but there are treatments and medications to help ease the symptoms.
One of the most prevalent myths about fibromyalgia (FMS) is that the disorder occurs mainly in middle-aged women or older individuals. In reality, a person of any age and of either sex can be diagnosed with FMS. The symptoms of FMS do change over time and with age, however.
The General Symptoms of FMS
The symptoms of FMS are the following:
- Pain: People with FMS frequently say they hurt everywhere.
- Tender points on the body
- Sleep problems
- Mood disorders
- Stiffness in the morning
- Tingling and swelling of the extremities (hands and feet)
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Urinary issues
- Concentration problems, accompanied by memory issues, which is also called “fibro fog”
- Increased menstrual cramps in premenopausal women
FMS is not diagnosed until a person is older. This is because younger individuals with the disorder tend to have the symptoms mentioned above, and FMS typically isn’t suspected. Instead of FMS, they may get diagnosed with another disease. Once someone becomes older they tend to feel some of these symptoms more severely than younger individuals. This may be the case due to experiencing a lack of stamina due to older age. This could in turn result in getting less exercise than they did when they were younger. Decreased activity tends to make an individual stiffer and sorer in the morning, have trouble sleeping, and feel more fatigue. Lack of exercise also remains a factor in the amount of anxiety and depression a person might feel.
Young people with FMS have a hard time finding a physician who will diagnose FMS because many doctors don’t believe that the disorder exists. As a result, the physician may just treat individual symptoms, instead of understanding the whole picture of FMS.
Middle-Age and FMS
As people with FMS age, they may find that their symptoms worsen. They may begin having problems in addition to their typical FMS signs, such as the following:
- Chronic fatigue
- Adrenal fatigue
- Underactive thyroid
- IBS symptoms that worsen
- GERD or reflux disorder
- Greater difficulty with movement, especially walking
- Increasing problems with brain fog
Without the aid of a doctor who is knowledgeable about FMS, it is hard for people with the disorder to know if they have a new condition or if their FMS symptoms are worsening.
You are Not Alone
FMS symptoms worsen for no apparent reason. Some days, the disorder will feel like it is in the background. Other times, the symptoms of FMS can make you feel the need to cancel planned activities. This can make you feel as if you are letting your friends and family down.
FMS groups can help to keep you from feeling alone. These groups also help you with connect with people who understand the disease and develop new relationships.
Online FMS groups can help to offer you sympathy, tips on staying as healthy as possible, exercise tips, food tips, suggestions on how to talk to your healthcare provider about the disorder, and tips on how to keep working with FMS pain.
Routine check-ins with your healthcare provider and a support group will go a long way to help you to live your life to the fullest potential!