Recognizing Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Women
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder affecting soft tissues and muscles that is characterized by fatigue, localized tenderness, and widespread musculoskeletal pain. Research into Fibromyalgia suggests it may be the result of the body's inability to process pain correctly, amplifying pain by inhibiting the brain from processing these signals. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong, and because the underlying factors of fibromyalgia are unknown, it can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms may also mimic other conditions. As the medical community discovers more about fibromyalgia, it has become clearer that women are affected differently than men.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Women with Menstruation and Pregnancy
Fibromyalgia is much more likely to occur in women than in men. In fact, between 80-90% of all diagnosed cases are women. It can be caused by surgery, trauma (physical and psychological), stress, infection, or can be triggered by no event at all. You can find a more extensive list of fibromyalgia symptoms here. These symptoms can vary in intensity, but it has been found that stress, exhaustion, and illness can worsen them.
Signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia that women are more likely to experience include:
- fatigue in the morning
- pain all over the body
- symptoms specific to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, commonly known as IBS
Women with fibromyalgia often report having heavier and more painful periods. Pregnancy can sometimes worsen fibromyalgia symptoms, and can heighten fatigue and mood swings. However, it usually does not affect the pregnancy beyond that.
Most women who have this disorder are between the ages of 40-55, and symptoms can worsen when women are postmenopausal or going through menopause. Women experiencing menopause with fibromyalgia may have increased feelings of crankiness, soreness, achiness, and anxiety. Some symptoms of fibromyalgia - including pain, tenderness, lack of quality sleep, memory issues, thinking through processes, or depression - can mirror symptoms of perimenopause ("around menopause")
Some women with fibromyalgia also have Endometriosis, which is a condition where tissue from the uterus grows in other parts of the pelvis. It can also be painful, and pain from fibromyalgia can increase the discomfort experienced with Endometriosis.
Fibromyalgia Pain in Women
While there is no fibromyalgia test, in order to get a fibromyalgia diagnosis, you will experience pain in all parts of your body on both the right and left, as well as your upper and lower body. Women typically have what are called "fibromyalgia tender points," "trigger points" or "pain points" in the following areas:
- At the base of the head, where it meets the neck
- Between the base of the neck and the tip of the shoulder
- Where the muscles of the back connect to the shoulder blade
- On each forearm near the crease of the elbow
- Just above the collarbone
- Beneath the collarbone on the side of the breastbone
- Just above the bony part of the outer hip
- Very low on the back, above the buttocks
- Inside the knee
Not everyone has these fibromyalgia tender points, but it is easier to differentiate fibromyalgia from other disorders if they are present.
While we continue to learn more about this disorder, there are fibromyalgia treatments, including chiropractic treatments, which can help with its symptoms, potentially relieving the chronic pain you may live with everyday. We are happy to provide a consultation and discuss what may work best for you or your loved ones.
Contact Dr. Lanoue's chiropractic clinic in Mississauga to schedule an appointment today.