A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia

By Daniel J. Wallace; Janice Brock Wallace | Go to book overview

4
Fibromyalgia-Related Complaints

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease, and as such has a variety of features. Any part of the body can be involved, especially when fibromyalgia is induced or aggravated by multiple factors.


CONSTITUTIONAL SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS

Complaints can be subjective and hard to verify or quantify. They con⁃ sist of symptoms, or expressions of what is bothersome, and signs. Physical signs are observed during a physical examination, such as a rash or an irregular heartbeat, and are easier to validate. Constitutional symptoms or signs are generalized and do not belong to any specific organ system or region of the body.


Fatigue

Generalized fatigue is a prominent feature of fibromyalgia. Between 60 and 80 percent of fibromyalgia patients complain of fatigue, which is defined as physical or mental exhaustion or weariness. However, there are many reasons for fatigue. In a recent survey, 20 percent of the women in the United States and 14 percent of the men rated them⁃ selves as being significantly fatigued. This feeling can come on like a wave or be continuous. Some of the basic causes of fatigue include emotional stress, depression, physical illness, poor sleeping, and poor eating. Examples of fatigue-inducing conditions include working too hard, substance abuse, anemia, low thyroid level, side effects of medi⁃ cation, overtraining, menopause, pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, kidney impairment, cancer, depression, excessive perfectionist tenden⁃ cies, autoimmune disease, and inflammation. The majority of patients with fibromyalgia and chronic, otherwise unexplained fatigue in whom a primary psychiatric diagnosis has been ruled out also meet the crite⁃ ria for chronic fatigue syndrome.

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