Fibromyalgia, or FM, is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by a dull, aching pain throughout the body. According to MayoClinic.com, fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose and is often mistaken for other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. A correct diagnosis is also difficult because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are not always present. Periods of time when the symptoms are most acute are referred to as flares or flare-ups. The condition most commonly affects middle-aged females; however, males are diagnosed with the disorder as well. According to the American College of Rheumatology, if you experience pain on both sides of your body and below the waist for three months or more, have your primary care doctor provide you with a referral to a rheumatologist for a correct diagnosis.
In terms of energy levels, individuals with FM have good days and bad days. At certain times, you have the energy to perform routine activities. On other days, FM symptoms flare up and you barely have enough energy to get out of bed, according to the National Fibromyalgia Association. The American College of Rheumatology advises beginning an exercise program, such as walking, swimming or water aerobics, to decrease the flare-ups—but start slow and don't give up. Consult a health care provider before beginning any new activity.
Fibromyalgia creates disturbances in sleep patterns, which at times can become quite severe. When FM flares up, you could wake up feeling unrefreshed. The NFA states that fibromyalgia causes episodes of "awake like" brain activity that prevents FM patients from getting adequate Stage 4 deep sleep.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes varying levels of widespread pain. During severe flare-ups, it is described as a deep muscular aching that can be accompanied by shooting pains. The NFA states that the pain is often most severe in the morning and can be triggered by changes in the weather, anxiety, stress and mental fatigue. When FM flares, the severe pain may cause many areas of the body to be very sensitive to touch.
Individuals with FM experience a wide variety of symptoms, and the symptoms can flare up at different times. Some patients experience headaches, which during flare-ups can be almost migraine-like in severity. Other patients have impaired cognitive function, such as memory loss and an inability to concentrate. Many fibromyalgia patients experience bouts of anxiety and depression. Typically, physicians will treat the individual symptoms as they flare up, as they are difficult to predict.