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Fibromyalgia and Fatigue

Persistent and chronic fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia, second only to the deep muscle pain and body aches. But unlike normal fatigue, the feelings of fatigue, weakness, and exhaustion that come with fibromyalgia can often lead to unending social isolation, even depression.

What Is Fatigue With Fibromyalgia?

Fatigue with fibromyalgia is described as crippling, exhausting, and flu-like. You may experience fatigue on arising, even after hours of bed rest. And many people with fibromyalgia have disturbances in deep-level or restful sleep, so the fatigue they feel is not easy to treat.

The fatigue with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) often coincides with mood disturbances, anxiety, or depression. People with fibromyalgia may describe their sleep as unrefreshing or light. Some people with fibromyalgia have pain and achiness around the joints in the neck, shoulder, back, and hips. This makes it even more difficult to sleep and worsens their daytime feelings of sleepiness and fatigue.

Experts theorize that there are similarities between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a condition primarily characterized by ongoing, debilitating fatigue. Often, people with fibromyalgia describe the fatigue they feel as "brain fatigue." They report a total loss of energy and difficulty concentrating, a condition called "fibro fog."

What Are the Other Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

In addition to chronic fatigue, symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Hypersensitivity to cold and/or heat
  • Inability to concentrate (called "fibro fog")
  • Incontinence
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Painful trigger points
  • Poor circulation in hands and feet (Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Stiffness

Fibromyalgia can cause signs and feelings similar to what people experience with osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. But unlike the localized pain with bursitis or tendinitis, the feelings of pain and stiffness with fibromyalgia are widespread.

Do Daytime Naps Help Fatigue With Fibromyalgia?

On good days, the fatigue with fibromyalgia may be tolerable with daytime napping. However, on bad days, when fibromyalgia symptoms flare, dealing with fatigue is quite difficult for both individuals with fibromyalgia and their loved ones. Even multiple rest periods throughout the day fail to provide relief from the chronic achiness, fatigue, and exhaustion.

How Can I Get Help With Fibromyalgia Fatigue?

Coping with the symptoms of fibromyalgia is difficult at best. And managing the chronic fatigue of fibromyalgia takes great effort and planning. You may feel like others don't believe you when you are forced to cancel family gatherings or luncheons with friends because of the chronic fatigue with fibromyalgia. That's why planning your schedule without making too many commitments may be helpful, especially when fibromyalgia symptoms flare.

Most fibromyalgia experts recommend talking to others about your specific fibromyalgia symptoms. Then, they will know your fibromyalgia is real -- not something you've made up in your head. In fact, asking for help from your family, friends, employer, or coworkers is important. When you have help, you are better able to make it through the day, even with the limited energy you feel.

WebMD Medical Reference

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