Chronic Headache


I’m in bed today with a migraine. I have Fibromyalgia and I feel twice at bad with daily migraines. I find Excedrin Migraine helps me more than migraine prescription meds.  I’m trying to find some good articles on ways to prevent the headaches. I know chocolate can cause mine. I hope all of you are finding ways to cope with yours.

Reprinted with permission from ACHE (American Council for Headache Education), Mt. Royal, New Jersey, USA

Fibromyalgia is a common chronic pain syndrome, affecting an estimated 3 to 9 million adults in the United States. Fibromyalgia is not a specific disease. The term fibromyalgia describes a pattern of symptoms that cluster together, including widespread body pain and sensitivity to pressure on specific spots on the body, called tender points. Curiously, these particular tender points are uniquely sensitive to pressure in people with fibromyalgia, while similar spots in other parts of their bodies are not. In addition, people with other types of chronic pain, such as low back pain or arthritis, do not find that pressing these spots is painful for them.

Until 1990, fibromyalgia was used to describe a variety of unrelated chronically painful conditions. In 1990, the American College of Rheumatology established specific diagnostic criteria, allowing proper identification of those patients with fibromyalgia. Patients with fibromyalgia must have pain on both sides of the body, as well as areas of the body both above and below the waist. In addition, fibromyalgia patients perceive firm pressure over the tender points to be painful. Patients with fibromyalgia experience a variety of other symptoms in addition to body pain. As you can see, the majority of fibromyalgia patients also report fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep disturbance, and abnormal body sensations or tingling. Over half report some headache.

Patients with fibromyalgia share many features with chronic headache patients. Similar to migraine, fibromyalgia occurs most commonly in women of childbearing age, with women affected 7 times more often than men. Fibromyalgia and chronic headache commonly occur together. A study of about 100 patients with transformed migraine showed fibromyalgia in 36% of the migraine sufferers. Those patients with both fibromyalgia and headaches experienced both greater pain severity and more depression. Another study compared about 70 patients with fibromyalgia to those with chronic headache. About 35% of the fibromyalgia patients reported migraine or tension-type headache, while 42% of the headache patients had painful fibromyalgia tender points throughout their bodies. Similar to the other study, patients with both fibromyalgia and headache reported more pain, disability, and depression than patients with headache alone. This general sensitivity to touch over the tender points, noted in about 40% of chronic headache sufferers, suggested the presence of nervous system activation or sensitization. In other words, 40% of chronic headache patients report hypersensitivity throughout the body (in addition to the head), similar to fibromyalgia patients.

These studies suggest that fibromyalgia, like some types of chronic headache, may be associated with increased excitation within the nervous system, which means it over-responds to stimulation that is not normally painful. (See “Central Sensitization: A New Theory of Migraine” in the Fall 2002 issue of the newsletter.) Similar to migraine, abnormalities in serotonin, a brain chemical involved in fine-tuning painful experiences, may be contributing to the increased excitation in fibromyalgia. Also, levels of substance P, a brain chemical that is involved in pain sensation, are high in patients with fibromyalgia. Finally, patients with fibromyalgia and patients with chronic headaches respond in similar ways to stress, and differently from people who do not have fibromyalgia or frequent headaches.

The cause or causes of fibromyalgia are still unknown. Some patients develop fibromyalgia symptoms after trauma or illness, while others develop the condition without any identified triggering event. Fortunately, fibromyalgia is not a degenerative or progressive disorder that would develop into paralysis, memory loss, or other losses of functioning.

Interestingly, a number of headache therapies are also effective in reducing symptoms of fibromyalgia:

Antidepressants (which have pain-relieving effects)

Tizanidine (a muscle relaxant with pain-relieving effects)

Psychological pain management skills (for example, stress management, coping skills, relaxation training)

Aerobic exercise

As with chronic headache, education about fibromyalgia and pain management is helpful in managing symptoms and limiting their impact on daily life.

Patients with both fibromyalgia and chronic headache should initially try those therapies that may effectively treat both conditions. Standard headache acute care and preventive therapies should be used when headache persists after completing fibromyalgia treatment, or if headache becomes the main pain complaint.

If you are experiencing widespread body pain, it is important to discuss this with your doctors.

Fibromyalgia patients are at increased risk for depression and anxiety, and report more interference and disability from their pain than patients with headache without body pain. Failure to recognize and treat co-existing fibromyalgia may result in increased pain, disability, depression, and anxiety. In addition, effective therapies are available for fibromyalgia that can significantly improve headache in addition to treating the generalized body pain.

Swollen Glands or Lymph Nodes With Fibromyalgia


By Adrienne Dellwo
Updated May 05, 2016

Q: “In your conversations with all of these people who have FMS do you ever come across swollen glands in the neck and under the jaw line? I get a very tight feeling in my neck sometimes and burning sensations. Have had bloods done but they come back as normal. Sometimes it really makes me feel unwell.” ~Lin

A: Swollen glands are a fairly common feature of fibromyalgia (FMS), and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) as well.

Typically, we associate swollen glands with acute illnesses. They’re a sign that your immune system is working against some kind of pathogen. It’s fairly normal for them to ache, even in “normal” people, so they’re especially likely to hurt us because of our low pain thresholds (the point at which sensation becomes painful.) That feeling of “unwellness” that accompany them probably mean that you’ve picked up some illness, or that your body is having a harder time in the battle against longer-term pathogens.

The “glands” that people refer to are actually lymph nodes, which are little bundles of white nerve cells. In FMS and ME/CFS (possibly more so in ME/CFS), they’re often a symptom of a chronically active immune system — your body is increasing its number of white blood cells to fight off the bug, so the area gets puffed up with them. However, especially in FMS, they may also be a consequence of what some researchers describe as thick or sluggish bodily fluids.

The lymph that would normally pass through seems to get backed up. We have lymph nodes throughout the body, in the:

Under the jaw & chin
Down both sides of the neck
On either side of the spine on the back of the neck
On either side of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck
Behind the ears

On the back of the head
If you have swelling or pressure in the center of your neck, it could be your thyroid gland. Be sure to get that checked out right away.

Swollen lymph nodes don’t require any treatment just because they’re swollen. However, if they’re painful, you have several options for easing the pain:

Heat and/or ice, possibly alternating. Try different combinations to see what helps most.
Ibuprofen, other NSAIDs or other pain medications.
Manual lymph drainage (a type of massage) if it appears to be stagnant lymph.
I get painful, swollen lymph nodes that don’t appear to be connected to immune problems. I can usually tell the difference because, at least for me, immune-related swelling is mildly painful and confined to the site, while stagnant-lymph swelling causes a deeper ache that radiates. I’ve had manual lymph drainage for it, and it can feel really good. However, sometimes it takes deeper massage than my body can handle. I have to be thorough in communicating with my massage therapist so she knows how much pressure she can use on any given day.

I’ve also had cupping, a traditional Chinese treatment that involves suction cups. It’s not as good at relieving the congestion, but it’s less likely to cause pain later, so it’s a good alternative.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
What Causes Fibromyalgia?
Treating FMS & ME/CFS

My July Diary




For Today Wednesday July 20th 2016


Looking out my window is always comforting to me. It’s a beautiful day here in Arkansas. It’s very hot outside so I will stay inside most of the day where the air is very cool.


I am thinking about my vacation. We went to Gulf Shores, AL. It was so beautiful. I love the beach, sand and water there. I enjoyed watching the grands play in the water on their boards. We had ballgames the last few days we were there. It was all very exciting for me.


My hubby and I went out on the beach the first morning and watched the sun rise. It was beautiful. We walked a lot more while we were there than we usually do. Below is a picture of our view from the deck. We were on the deck a lot. It always had a cool refreshing breeze. It was cold inside. I thought the cars would bother me but I actually enjoyed seeing them. It made being there exciting.


I am thankful for all my children and grands. Adi and Jaxson spent the day with us yesterday. They are growing up so fast. We ordered supper from Pizza Hut and I tried the new Garlic Knots Adi ordered. They are very good and were so fresh.Two of my grands were in the Bahama’s having fun while we were in Gulf Shores. I have put it on my bucket list as a place to visit before I die.



One of my favorite things is having my grands spend the night with me. Sage is my seven year old and her cousin Kota is my great grand who is eight. They spent several days with me a couple of weeks ago. We had so much fun. Adi and Jaxson stayed one night to play with them. They put on a fashion show using mine and grandpa’s clothes. It was a lot of fun for all of us. Below is a picture of Kota when she went to Gulf Shores a few weeks ago. She really loves the beach and it was her second time to go.



I am wearing a light blue housecoat. I have had my bath but haven’t dressed yet.

I am reading several books on dieting. I can’t decide which diet is the healthiest. I’m studying the effects of food on telomeres.

I am hoping for some cooler weather soon.


In my kitchen I cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. For lunch I’m having a large salad with lettuce, tomatoes and chicken. I’m thankful for my new fridge and dishwasher. I love the fridge because it has ice and water in the door. It solves a lot of my kitchen problems.


I hope all of you have a great month. This one’s nealy over and it has been great.



Telomeres and Telomerase


To better understand telomeres and telomerase, let’s first review some basic principles of biology and genetics. The human body is an organism formed by adding many organ systems together. Those organ systems are made of individual organs. Each organ contains tissues designed for specific functions like absorption and secretion. Tissues are made of cells that have joined together to perform those special functions. Each cell is then made of smaller components called organelles, one of which is called the nucleus.

The nucleus contains structures called chromosomes that are actually “packages” of all the genetic information that is passed from parents to their children. The genetic information, or “genes,” is really just a series of bases called Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C), and Thymine (T). These base pairs make up our cellular alphabet and create the sequences, or instructions needed to form our bodies. In order to grow and age, our bodies must duplicate their cells. This process is called mitosis. Mitosis is a process that allows one “parent” cell to divide into two new “daughter” cells. During mitosis, cells make copies of their genetic material. Half of the genetic material goes to each new daughter cell. To make sure that information is successfully passed from one generation to the next, each chromosome has a special protective cap called a telomere located at the end of its “arms.” Telomeres are controlled by the presence of the enzyme telomerase.

A telomere is a repeating DNA sequence (for example, TTAGGG) at the end of the body’s chromosomes. The telomere can reach a length of 15,000 base pairs. Telomeres function by preventing chromosomes from losing base pair sequences at their ends. They also stop chromosomes from fusing to each other. However, each time a cell divides, some of the telomere is lost (usually 25-200 base pairs per division). When the telomere becomes too short, the chromosome reaches a “critical length” and can no longer replicate. This means that a cell becomes “old” and dies by a process called apoptosis. Telomere activity is controlled by two mechanisms: erosion and addition. Erosion, as mentioned, occurs each time a cell divides. Addition is determined by the activity of telomerase.

Telomerase, also called telomere terminal transferase, is an enzyme made of protein and RNA subunits that elongates chromosomes by adding TTAGGG sequences to the end of existing chromosomes. Telomerase is found in fetal tissues, adult germ cells, and also tumor cells. Telomerase activity is regulated during development and has a very low, almost undetectable activity in somatic (body) cells. Because these somatic cells do not regularly use telomerase, they age. The result of aging cells is an aging body. If telomerase is activated in a cell, the cell will continue to grow and divide. This “immortal cell” theory is important in two areas of research: aging and cancer.

Cellular aging, or senescence, is the process by which a cell becomes old and dies. It is due to the shortening of chromosomal telomeres to the point that the chromosome reaches a critical length. Cellular aging is analogous to a wind up clock. If the clock stays wound, a cell becomes immortal and constantly produces new cells. If the clock winds down, the cell stops producing new cells and dies. Our cells are constantly aging. Being able to make the body’s cells live forever certainly creates some exciting possibilities. Telomerase research could therefore yield important discoveries related to the aging process.

Cancer cells are a type of malignant cell. The malignant cells multiply until they form a tumor that grows uncontrollably. Telomerase has been detected in human cancer cells and is found to be 10-20 times more active than in normal body cells. This provides a selective growth advantage to many types of tumors. If telomerase activity was to be turned off, then telomeres in cancer cells would shorten, just like they do in normal body cells. This would prevent the cancer cells from dividing uncontrollably in their early stages of development. In the event that a tumor has already thoroughly developed, it may be removed and anti-telomerase therapy could be administered to prevent relapse. In essence, preventing telomerase from performing its function would change cancer cells from “immortal” to “mortal.”

Knowing what we have just learned about telomeres and telomerase, it can be said that scientists are on the verge of discovering many of telomerase’s secrets. In the future, their research in the area of telomerase could uncover valuable information to combat aging, fight cancer, and even improve the quality of medical treatment in other areas such as skin grafts for burn victims, bone marrow transplants, and heart disease. Who knows how far this could go?

Europeans Don’t Refrigerate Eggs


British supermarkets don’t refrigerate eggs. It’s not unusual to find stacks of egg cartons sitting alongside canned beans, boxes of dry cake mix, or other traditionally nonperishable foods.

This is unlike the US, where eggs are found in the refrigerated dairy aisle with the butter, cheeses, and milk.

The difference is linked to the way that eggs are farmed and processed in the US compared with in the UK and other European nations.

In the US, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that eggs destined for supermarket shelves — called graded eggs — are washed and sprayed with a chemical sanitiser before they are sold to the public to reduce the risk of salmonella infection.

In the UK, Grade A hen eggs may not be washed because the process is thought to “aid the transfer of harmful bacteria like salmonella from the outside to the inside of the egg,” according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. Forbes contributor Nadia Arumugam has previously noted that USDA graded eggs could not be legally sold in the UK (and the other way around) because of these different preparation methods.

The Salmonella Risk
Salmonella can infect eggs in one of two ways. The bacteria can be passed on from an infected hen to the inside of the egg as it’s developing, or it can get onto the outside of the shell after the egg is laid by coming into contact with the hen’s feces.

In the US, large-scale laying houses are preferred over the free-range systems commonly used in the UK. The factory farm environment means more eggs can be produced on a smaller amount of land, but it also makes eggs more susceptible to contamination, even with good sanitary practises. As a result, eggs are moved directly from the hen house to a conveyor belt that takes them through a washer. The eggs are then sprayed.

It’s critical that the eggs are washed properly — otherwise the washing can actually the increase the chances of bacteria seeping into the shell from feces on the outside of it. “Wetting a dirty shell provides moisture in which bacteria may breed and assists their growth and penetration through the shell,” the USDA’s Egg Grading manual explains.

To get around the chance of that happening, the washing solution has to be hot enough — a minimum of 32.2 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) — to prevent the egg’s contents from contracting slightly as the egg cools and drawing dirty water in through the shell, according to the USDA.

Europe takes a different approach to prevent salmonella contamination. “The priority in egg production is to produce clean eggs at the point of collection, rather than trying to clean them afterwards,” according to food safety officials in Ireland. “There is also a suggestion that not allowing cleaning eggs in the EU might help maintain good farm husbandry and practises,” Mark Fielder, a professor at London’s Kingston University and medical microbiology expert, told Business Insider.

Additionally, scientists have found that the washing process may damage an outside layer of the egg shell known as the cuticle. Without that chemical barrier, it becomes easier for bacteria to penetrate the inside of a clean egg. Cooler temperatures might prevent the eggs from deteriorating as quickly as well as the growth of bacteria.

Fielder believes that refrigeration is related to “whether local advice recommends this practice or not.” Once eggs are washed, the USDA stipulates that clean eggs be immediately moved to cooler rooms that maintain a temperature of 7.2 degrees C (45 degrees F) or lower. Dirty eggs may be stored in temperatures of up to -17.8 degrees C (60 degrees F).

The Right Refrigeration Methods
After an egg is refrigerated, it must be kept at that temperature. “A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria that could contaminate the egg,” according to the United Egg Producers association. “Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than two hours.”

That’s why the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends that US consumers keep eggs refrigerated at temperatures of 40 degrees F — to prevent illness from bacteria. “In the EU it is generally suggested that eggs are stored at an ambient temperature of around 17 to 23 degrees C (62 to 73 degrees F),” Fielder says.

But there’s another reason the UK is not as concerned about washing eggs as the US: Salmonella is not as big of a health concern in Britain. Egg farmers began vaccinating their hens in 1997, after thousands of people were sickened by the bacteria.

Although vaccination has been linked to a rapid decline of salmonella cases in the UK, US regulators have still not mandated immunisations, although many of today’s eggs producers do vaccinate their hens. In 2010, the FDA said it would not legally require the vaccination of hens because “there was not enough evidence to conclude that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from getting sick,” The New York Times reported. Farmers also complained that it would be expensive. Instead, the FDA controls the threat of salmonella through regular testing, refrigeration standards, and strict sanitary codes in hen houses and processing areas, The Times said.

Salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning in the US, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The organisation estimates that more than 140,000 people get sick each year from eating eggs contaminated with the bacteria, which triggers non-life-threatening (though unpleasant) symptoms like diarrhoea, cramps, and vomiting.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

The following is an expanded list of common symptoms often associated with FM. Not all patients will experience all of these symptoms and each case is individual.

PAIN – diffuse musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. The syndrome is defined by the presence of musculoskeletal tender points on physical examination. Pain is often described as aching, burning, throbbing, gnawing, shooting &/or tingling. It can be localized, generalized, can feel like muscle spasms and can be scattered throughout the body. It may be migratory, with pain presenting in one or more areas on one day and other areas on another day. Pain is often experienced very quickly after any repetitive movement – even something as simple as holding arms up to brush or comb hair etc.

Numerous vague unspecified symptoms that wax and wane and cause fibro sufferers to “just never feel good”.

Due to the lack of Stage 4 sleep, muscle repair does not occur properly and therefore muscles take longer to heal and regenerate after micro injuries or trauma, as is experienced by everyone in day to day life. Micro trauma during exercise is not repaired in FMS patients in the same manner as it is in normal people – thus the muscle stiffness causes much more distress in fibromyalgics or FMSers and takes longer to subside, therefore exercise is not refreshing but continuously causes pain making patients reluctant to engage in an exercise routine.

Fibromyalgics have 3 times the amount of Substance P in their bodies than do normal people. Substance P is the vehicle that carries pain stimuli to the brain. The brain may also interpret the pain improperly and respond inappropriately. What might be experienced as a “tickle”, itch or annoyance normally – is often experienced as pain in those who suffer with FMS. There are often more pain receptors in FMSers, therefore pain is magnified.

Bilateral Pain in various points in areas throughout the body. There are 18 TPR’s – Diagnosis of FMS is made if pressure on 11 of these 18 points causes pain. Areas throughout the body may feel “bruised” when touched. The tender point is considered to be positive if an approximate force of 4 kg. of pressure causes pain when applied to the specified points. Widespread pain must have been present for at least 3 months with the associated tender points pain in order for Fibromyalgia to be diagnosed.

FMS patients may bruise more easily than others and some may experience excessive bruising.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder: in many FM patients, problems are encountered because of the abnormal tone in muscles around the joint, not because of abnormalities in the joint itself. (Pain in the face and jaw.)

Grinding of teeth at night.

Clenching of jaw at night.

Headaches: tension &/migraine. Visual Migraines may also be experienced. (Search Visual or Ocular Migraines for more information)

Recurrent sore throat.

Chest Pain: Non-cardiac pain that may simulate cardiac disorder. This may be Costochondritis which is pain in the sternum or breastbone where the ribs attach. (Search Costochondritis for more information.)

Heart murmur: may be Mitral Valve Prolapse. (MVP occurs in up to 75% of fibromyalgics. Search Mitral Valve Prolapse + Fibromyalgia for more information.)

Heart palpitations.

Heartburn and digestive problems.

Esophageal dysmotility or reflux.

Back Pain: usually low back pain – may be exacerbated by muscle spasms in this area. A pillow placed under the thighs to tilt the pelvis while in bed may help, as it flattens the low back against the mattress. Pillow should not be under the knees as this might contribute to causing blood clots.

Sacro-iliac instability and pain.

Joint Hypermobility and Laxity: lax ligaments or what is commonly referred to as being “double-jointed”. People who have this condition often ache and are more susceptible to osteoarthritis later in life. Studies suggest that joint hypermobility and fibromyalgia are associated and that the hypermobility can play a role in the pathogenesis or development of pain in fibro.(For more information search Joint Hypermobility + Fibromyalgia)

Arm and Shoulder pain: Often burning type of pain – often between the shoulder blades. May go across shoulders and down arms. Neck may also be sore &/or stiff. Arms may ache or pain may be severe in them. One side may be more painful than the other. A small pillow placed under the arm to elevate it slightly when lying down is often helpful, as arms tend to drop down on the bed and pull on the neck and shoulders. When riding in a car, it is often helpful to place a pillow over your knees and rest your arms on it. This helps elevate the arms and shoulders and can alleviate the “drag” one them and stop arms from going numb if this is a problem.

Postural Changes: shoulders hunched forward or rounded, head thrust forward with neck kinked forward, chest sunken, low back pushed forward causing abdomen to protrude, knees locked, muscles in back of thighs flexed – all a mechanism to find a comfortable position.

Painful lymph nodes: under the arms and in the neck.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: numbness, tingling and pain in wrists, hands and/or fingers. Pain in hands makes writing, typing, wringing out dish cloth etc difficult. Pain when plunging hands into cold water. (also pain maybe experienced on entering the water if swimming in cold water).

Paresthesia: Numbness or tingling (non-dermatomal) Numbness in arms and legs.

Raynaud’s – like symptoms – numbness and tingling in the extremities especially in fingers, exacerbated by the cold.

Many fibromyalgics feel cold even when it is not particularly cold inside or out. Often hands & feet are very cold. Sometimes the sensation of cold seems to cause pain as well as giving the sensation of cold. A warm shower will usually help to alleviate this sensation whereas turning up the heat in the house does not.

Tennis Elbow: Pain in elbow and forearm.

Dry, itchy, blotchy skin &/or skin rashes. Especially on the face by ears and jaws and on forehead.

Ridges: may develop in finger nails and toe nails. Nails may split. Nails may break off easily. If they do grow they may curve or curl under.

Restless Leg Syndrome: Aching in legs especially at night causes legs to be moved constantly in an attempt to ease the pain or aching.

Weak knees and ankles. Cramps in legs.

Foot Pain: Plantar arch or heel pain, may be plantar fasciitis or just “fibro feet”. Orthopedic shoes and orthotics may help.

Muscle and joint aches.

Severe muscle weakness.

Muscle spasms: may feel like tight knots or charlie horse or lumps. Muscles contract but do not release properly. Muscles apparently may contract without receiving stimulus from the brain.

Twitching: can be muscular – may experience eye twitch or a facial twitch.

Burning sensations in muscles throughout the body.

Nausea: may be caused by overload of pain stimuli bombarding the brain – nausea may also be experienced when moving from a horizontal to a vertical position.

Recurrent flu-like illness with muscle pain and aching.

Weight change: – usually gain – a feeling of swelling or puffiness might be experienced. May experience retention of fluid for a few days and then return to “normal”. May “feel” swollen even if inflammation and swelling are not actually present. Weight gain may also be due to various medications used to treat fibro.

Hair loss: hair may come out in great “gobs” when combed or brushed. May notice hair coming out when it is being washed as well.

Sleep disturbance/non restorative sleep: may be described as not being able to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep or more common, “I feel like I haven’t slept at all”. May awaken frequently and be unable to return to sleep for some time. May wake up “full” of pain and feel “more tired” than on going to bed.

There is a disturbance in the sleep pattern and fibromyalgics are not able to enter into stage 4 sleep, thus they awaken frequently through the night when they reach Stage 4. One may also feel that they are awake and asleep. In essence what happens is that there is brain wave activity of sleep going on in the brain and at the same time there is brain wave energy of being awake going on – almost like the sleep patterns and awake patterns are playing in the brain at the same time. Restful sleep is never achieved. Thus there follows deep aching discomfort throughout the body and the feeling of being exhausted. The shoulders, neck and low back are often the most painful.

Frequent, unusual nightmares or being unable to dream – “black” heavy sleep may be experienced if medication is taken to aid staying asleep.

Night sweats: wake up drenched in perspiration, then become very cold and maybe even start to shiver.

Intolerance to cold: muscles contract in response to exposure to cold – cold weather, cold drafts, ice packs etc. Sometimes referred to as muscle jelling as in jello – jello is fluid and liquid when warm and jells when chilled. Extreme sensitivity to seasonal changes, climatic changes – rain and impending storms. Most Fibro patients find that their muscles respond to the application of warmth but that application of ice packs or cold intensifies pain.

Body temperature fluctuations – hot one minute and cold the next. Perhaps inner “controls” (thermoregulatory system) are out of whack.

Fatigue – can be described as feeling tired to being extremely exhausted after minimal physical exertion. Sometimes a short nap in the afternoon may help relieve the feeling of fatigue, yet some people require frequent rest periods to get them through the day. Sometimes the fatigue can come on suddenly for no apparent reason and can be very debilitating. Short periods of exertion can require long periods of rest to recuperate. Can be severe and have a sudden onset even with minimal physical exertion. May experience sudden debilitating fatigue that makes it necessary to immediately stop whatever one is doing and go and rest. May be experience as a sheet of fatigue descending over one. It is so debilitating that patients are often left wondering how they can carry on – “I’m just too tired to keep on living”



Disequilibrium – impaired co-ordination: misjudge distances – bang into door frames, walk into furniture, walls etc.

Cognitive function problems: such as attention deficit disorder, calculation difficulties, memory disturbance, spatial disorientation, difficulty with concentration and short-term memory. These things are commonly referred to by FMSers as “fibrofog”.

Neurogenic inflammation: rashes and hives, inflammatory sensation, with rashes that may be severe, severe itching with inflammation – initiated by nerves.

Alteration of taste, smell, hearing. Some odours may make one nauseous.

Sensitivity amplification: may be more sensitive to smells, sound, odours, lights, pressure and temperature fluctuations, vibrations and noise etc. – the buzzing from fluorescent lights, hum of computer, buzz of overhead hydro lines may become almost unbearable to an FMSer at times. FMS hyper-sensitizes nerve endings.

May develop food intolerances, allergies and chemical sensitivities.

Changes in visual acuity: impaired function of smooth muscles used for focus as well as skeletal muscles for tracking. May experience blurred vision &/or double vision. Some people require two or three different eye glass prescriptions as their needs change with the Fibro symptoms. May experience Visual or Ocular Migraines.

Exaggerated nystagmus: involuntary rapid movement of the eyeball.

Intolerance of bright lights/sunlight.

Dry eyes and mouth: dry mouth can cause dental problems – dry eyes may cause inability to wear contact lens, may cause other visual problems, may require eye drops to keep eyes moist and free from infection. Eyes may be very dry at times and water at other times.

Hearing Loss: low frequency, sensorineural hearing loss.

Decreased painful sound threshold. Sometimes normal everyday noises become very irritating. May not tolerate radio or television well.

Ringing in the ears – ringing and sounds like the rolling ocean or whispers may be experienced.

Allergies: Severe nasal and other allergies and patients may also have a deep sinus infection.

Environmental sensitivities may develop.

Enhancement of medication side effects.

Intolerance of medications that were previously tolerated.

Intolerance of alcohol.

Intolerance of caffeine.

Intolerance of processed white sugar and most artificial sweeteners.

Premenstrual Syndrome: swelling, tenderness and lumps in breasts are often experienced with PMS, painful periods as well as mood swings, exaggerated emotional responses etc. etc. as common in PMS.

Fibrocystic Breast Disease: may be experienced by FMSers especially prior to period. Breasts may become very swollen and sore and be full of cysts or lumps that disappear after period.

Frequent vaginal yeast infections.

Vulvar vestibulitis or vulvodynia.

Interstitial cystitis.

Irritable Bladder/Frequent Urination: might be uncomfortable or painful. Also bladders spasms may feel like a bladder infection.

Foul or strong smelling urine: May smell like green hay. May be dark in colour.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: alternate between constipation and diarrhea. Frequent abdominal pain, gas and nausea.

Depression: may be reactive or clinical. Often pain and feeling ill all of the time causes the depression. FMSers are depressed because they hurt. They do not hurt because they are depressed.

Anxiety: may include panic attacks.

Emotional lability or mood swings. May be tearful at times because life seems overwhelming.

Irritability probably due to pain and inability to do the things that you need to do and want to do.

Personality changes: usually a worsening of a previous tendency. People who have FMS sometimes have a hard time accepting their limitations and the loss of the person they “used to be” – they may actually go into the mourning process. Because FMS is an “invisible” sort of illness – and patients often see many Doctors before being properly diagnosed, they often begin to doubt themselves.

Fibromyalgics desperately need support and understanding from those closest to them but they often feel alienated because of their illness and inability to participate fully in many common activities of daily living. Many are unable to continue working at the jobs they love and thus lose part of the identity that their job may give them. They begin to lose their sense of independence and productivity and their sense of value.

Anger and resentment towards lack of understanding may alter FMSers personality drastically and cause even further alienation from family and friends. Along with this sense of helplessness and worthlessness that may develop, they may begin to feel guilty for not being able to be the person that others need or expect them to be. They may become extremely depressed and begin to lose interest in life altogether.

Fibromyalgia does not usually respond to anti-inflammatory medications. Initially there may be a positive effect but often this initial response subsides. Low doses of anti-depressants are often administered in an attempt to modify sleep patterns and serotonin uptake. Analgesics likewise often become ineffective once the body has become accustomed to them. Doctors are sometimes reluctant to prescribe narcotic analgesics due to the possibility of addiction. Various herbal remedies are found to have some positive effects by some fibromyalgics as are various vitamin and mineral supplement preparations. There are special herbal combinations specifically for FMS.

Exercise Programs are effective for some FMSers while they exacerbates the pain for others. Swimming is helpful for some people. Warm Baths are sometimes comforting especially if sea salt or epsom salts are added to the water. Heating Pads are helpful – either regular pads or moist heat. Infra Red Pads are also helpful for some patients. Analgesic rubs or liniments also bring some temporary relief. Massage, Reflexology and Chiropractic treatments are effective for some FMSers but tend to be aggravating to others.

It is very important for those who suffer from this syndrome to remember that THEY have fibromyalgia and that fibromyalgia DOES NOT HAVE them!

Fibromyalgia Symtoms

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GENERAL __ Fatigue, made worse by physical exertion or stress __ Activity level decreased to less than 50% of pre-illness activity level __ Recurrent flu-like illness __ Sore throat __ Hoarseness __ Tender or swollen lymph nodes (glands), especially in neck and underarms __ Shortness of breath (air hunger) with little or no exertion __ Frequent sighing __ Tremor or trembling __ Severe nasal allergies (new allergies or worsening of previous allergies) __ Cough __ Night sweats __ Low-grade fevers __ Feeling cold often __ Feeling hot often __ Cold extremities (hands and feet) __ Low body temperature (below 97.6) __ Low blood pressure (below 110/70) __ Heart palpitations __ Dryness of eyes and/or mouth __ Increased thirst __ Symptoms worsened by temperature changes __ Symptoms worsened by air travel __ Symptoms worsened by stress __ Symptoms worsened by barometric changes

PAIN __ Headache __ Tender points or trigger points __ Muscle pain __ Muscle twitching __ Muscle weakness __ Paralysis or severe weakness of an arm or leg __ Joint pain __ TMJ syndrome __ Chest pain

GENERAL NEUROLOGICAL __ Lightheadedness; feeling “spaced out” __ Inability to think clearly (“brain fog”) __ Seizures __ Seizure-like episodes __ Syncope (fainting) or blackouts __ Sensation that you might faint __ Vertigo or dizziness __ Numbness or tingling sensations __ Tinnitus (ringing in one or both ears) __ Photophobia (sensitivity to light) __ Noise intolerance

EQUILIBRIUM / PERCEPTION __ Feeling spatially disoriented __ Dysequilibrium (balance difficulty) __ Staggering gait (clumsy walking; bumping into things) __ Dropping things frequently __ Difficulty judging distances (e.g. when driving; placing objects on surfaces) __ “Not quite seeing” what you are looking at

SLEEP __ Hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) __ Sleep disturbance: unrefreshing or non-restorative sleep __ Sleep disturbance: difficulty falling asleep __ Sleep disturbance: difficulty staying asleep (frequent awakenings) __ Sleep disturbance: vivid or disturbing dreams or nightmares __ Altered sleep/wake schedule (alertness/energy best late at night)

MOOD / EMOTIONS __ Depressed mood __ Suicidal thoughts __ Suicide attempts __ Feeling worthless __ Frequent crying __ Feeling helpless and/or hopeless __ Inability to enjoy previously enjoyed activities __ Increased appetite __ Decreased appetite __ Anxiety or fear when there is no obvious cause __ Panic attacks __ Irritability; overreaction __ Rage attacks: anger outbursts with little or no cause __ Abrupt, unpredictable mood swings __ Phobias (irrational fears) __ Personality changes

EYES AND VISION __ Eye pain __ Changes in visual acuity (frequent changes in ability to see well) __ Difficulty with accommodation (switching focus from one thing to another) __ Blind spots in vision

SENSITIVITIES __ Sensitivities to medications (unable to tolerate “normal” dosage) __ Sensitivities to odors (e.g., cleaning products, exhaust fumes, colognes, hair sprays) __ Sensitivities to foods __ Alcohol intolerance __ Alteration of taste, smell, and/or hearing

UROGENITAL __ Frequent urination __ Painful urination or bladder pain __ Prostate pain __ Impotence __ Endometriosis __ Worsening of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) __ Decreased libido (sex drive)

GASTROINTESTINAL __ Stomach ache; abdominal cramps __ Nausea __ Vomiting __ Esophageal reflux (heartburn) __ Frequent diarrhea __ Frequent constipation __ Bloating; intestinal gas __ Decreased appetite __ Increased appetite __ Food cravings __ Weight gain __ Weight loss

SKIN __ Rashes or sores __ Eczema or psoriasis

OTHER __ Hair loss __ Mitral valve prolapse __ Cancer __ Dental problems __ Periodontal (gum) disease __ Aphthous ulcers (canker sores)

COGNITIVE __ Difficulty with simple calculations (e.g., balancing checkbook) __ Word-finding difficulty __ Using the wrong word __ Difficulty expressing ideas in words __ Difficulty moving your mouth to speak __ Slowed speech __ Stuttering; stammering __ Impaired ability to concentrate __ Easily distracted during a task __ Difficulty paying attention __ Difficulty following a conversation when background noise is present __ Losing your train of thought in the middle of a sentence __ Difficulty putting tasks or things in proper sequence __ Losing track in the middle of a task (remembering what to do next) __ Difficulty with short-term memory __ Difficulty with long-term memory __ Forgetting how to do routine things __ Difficulty understanding what you read __ Switching left and right __ Transposition (reversal) of numbers, words and/or letters when you speak __ Transposition (reversal) of numbers, words and/or letters when you write __ Difficulty remembering names of objects __ Difficulty remembering names of people __ Difficulty recognizing faces __ Difficulty following simple written instructions __ Difficulty following complicated written instructions __ Difficulty following simple oral (spoken) instructions __ Difficulty following complicated oral (spoken) instructions __ Poor judgment __ Difficulty making decisions __ Difficulty integrating information (putting ideas together to form a complete picture or concept) __ Difficulty following directions while driving __ Becoming lost in familiar locations when driving __ Feeling too disoriented to drive