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Chronic pain symptoms may indicate fibromyalgia, or one of many other illnesses like pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency. If you constantly feel tired, bloated, nauseous, itchy, and wracked with crushing pain, you might be suffering from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, B12 deficiency, or all of the above…
Fibromyalgia, or fibromyositis, is a condition that causes the sufferer indescribable pain and fatigue for no apparent reason. Doctors are unsure as to the exact cause of fibromyalgia, which is classified as an autoimmune disorder involving the brain’s overreaction to pain stimuli.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Persistent muscular pain in at least 11 of 18 specific “pain points” on the body, including the neck and shoulders
Pain described as stiffness, burning, throbbing
Pain spreads from one tender spot to another
Sleep problems caused by pain and restless legs syndrome
Gastrointestinal woes, like stomach pain, nausea, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, and constipation
Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder that prevents your body from producing intrinsic factor, a protein the body needs for vitamin B12 absorption. As a result, pernicious anemia patients often have dangerously low levels of vitamin B12- a nutrient involved in producing red blood cells, protecting the nervous system, lowering homocysteine levels, maintaining healthy cognitive skills, and establishing DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 deficiency often overlaps with fibromyalgia, as gastrointestinal issues often inhibit vitamin B12 absorption.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Shortness of breath
Painful tingling and numbness in hands, feet, and ankles
Chronic fatigue syndrome shares comorbidity with fibromyalgia. Like fibromyalgia, the cause for CFS is still unexplained. Patients complaining of chronic fatigue receive diagnosis based on their symptoms.
Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include:
Persistent tiredness that is not caused by physical exertion, loss of sleep, or mental exhaustion
Waking up fatigued, despite sleeping the whole night
Pain in tender spots similar to the pain zones suffered by fibromyalgia patients, only less severe
Myofascial pain is similar to fibromyalgia. While fibromyalgia patients experience soreness in “pain points,” sufferers of myofascial pain syndrome experience pain in “trigger points.” Also unlike fibromyalgia symptoms, myofascial pain does not spread from one point to another.
Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include:
Small pain points that occur in tense muscles
Trigger points that produce a muscular twitch when stimulated
Pain points are tiny lumps about the size of your pinky’s fingernail.
Fibromyalgia sufferers often experience chronic headaches such as migraines, tension headaches, daily persistent headaches, or hemicrania continua. Scientists speculate that migraines happen in the same part of the brain as fibromyalgia triggers.
Symptoms of migraine headaches include:
Throbbing head pain, typically on one side of the head
Migraine aura- visual disturbances, vertigo, hallucinations, speech slurring, loss of consciousness, or temporary paralysis
Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, and scents
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)
Exposure to chemicals may cause symptoms that mimic fibromyalgia, although researchers are uncertain if MCS is a physical response or a psychological reaction.
Symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity include:
Significantly lower threshold for chemical tolerance than normal
Pain reaction consistent with various unrelated chemicals
Sensitivity occurs in more than one organ of the body
Chronic pain reaction that occurs repeatedly from exposure to certain chemicals
Removing the chemical trigger ends pain symptoms
Most fibromyalgia patients have experienced clinical depression in the past, and a substantial (but lower) percentage suffers from chronic depression. Depression is also a common symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency. If depression stems from fibromyalgia pain, then it does not classify as major depression, but rather a secondary condition of fibromyalgia chronic pain syndrome.
Symptoms of major depression include:
Spells of sadness that last for months
Difficulty making decisions
Sleep problems like oversleeping or not sleeping enough
Feelings of low value or guilt
Weight problems, either excessive weight gain or weight loss
Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) is sometimes confused with fatigue associated with fibromyalgia or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. As opposed to hyperthyroid disorder, where the thyroid gland produces too many hormones, hypothyroid disorder involves underproduction of hormones in the thyroid gland.
Autoimmune disease symptoms like lupus may occur at the same time as fibromyalgia or B12 deficiency, making it harder to diagnose. Conversely, patients with lupus often don’t realize that their vitamin B12 levels have dropped to a dangerous low until they start to suffer severe nerve damage.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks. Because of delayed symptoms mimicking fibromyalgia, about 15-50% of fibromyalgia patients receives a misdiagnosis of Lyme disease, and is instructed to take strong antibiotics. A blood test sometimes excludes Lyme disease, but not always.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include:
Itching all over the body
Chills and fever
Numbness and tingling
Restless Legs Syndrome
A significant amount of fibromyalgia sufferers and pernicious anemia patients also experience restless legs syndrome at night. However, other causes of restless legs syndrome are kidney disorder, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or drugs.
Symptoms of restless legs syndrome include:
Uneasy feeling in lower leg
Creeping, crawling sensations
Intense need to shake leg in order to ease symptoms
Achiness that disappears with exercise
Read more about diseases that mimic fibromyalgia and vitamin B12 deficiency
What’s the difference between fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)? Health experts often differ in diagnosing fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue symptoms, as they tend to overlap. Judge for yourself- here are some facts on symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (FM) is a condition that causes pain, tiredness, and stomach upset in its sufferers. FM is somewhat of a medical phenomenon, as scientists are still unsure exactly what causes fibromyalgia. Theories abound, and researchers continue to conduct studies on possible causes of fibromyalgia.
The most prevalent symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic pain: About 70% – 80% of fibromyalgia patients suffer severe muscular soreness. Pain occurs mostly along the spine, the shoulders, hips, and neck, but can also happen in other parts of the body. FM sufferers may also experience joint stiffness similar to arthritis pain.
Other common symptoms of fibromyalgia are gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea), severe fatigue, sleep difficulties, and “brain fog” (concentration problems).
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention, approximately five million US citizens suffer from fibromyalgia.
In order to diagnose fibromyalgia, a doctor must confirm eleven out of eighteen fibromyalgia “tender points” in his patient.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) goes by a few other names: immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). CFS is another “invisible disease” that affects the body and the mind. Like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome is also an illness for which scientists are still attempting to determine the cause. The leading theory is that CFS is an autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system.
What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?
While fibromyalgia symptoms center on pain, CFS symptoms are primarily related to extreme unending tiredness. Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include:
being tired all the time, despite getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and generally taking good care of yourself,
complete exhaustion after low-impact exercise, examinations, or long periods requiring mental focus, followed by a recuperation period,
poor short-term memory,
waking up fatigued, and never feeling fully rested,
flu-like aches and pain,
poor reading comprehension,
difficulty grasping appropriate words while communicating,
What’s the difference between CFS and FM?
The fact that symptoms of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia so often overlap makes it difficult for doctors to diagnose, and confusing for patients to understand. Here are some basic similarities and distinguishing facts of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome:
Not all people who have chronic fatigue syndrome also suffer from chronic pain symptoms such as those with fibromyalgia. However, most fibromyalgia patients live with extreme, persistent fatigue every day- approximately 50% – 70%, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
About one million people have chronic fatigue syndrome, compared with five million fibromyalgia sufferers.
While some physicians believe that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are two separate conditions that often overlap in one patient, others believe that chronic fatigue is one of many symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome, and not a disorder in its own right.
Stress and physical exertion are both common triggers of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.
Vitamin B12 deficiency in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
Other illnesses share similar symptoms with FM and CFS, causing yet more confusion in diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, other conditions like pernicious anemia may occur at the same time as CFS, and may go undetected as a result.
A high correlation exists between vitamin B12 deficiency and fibromyalgia. Any condition that causes gastrointestinal problems will likely also result in poor digestion of vitamin B12. Untreated, B12 deficiency can escalate into severe nerve damage.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency may include nerve pain (tingling, pins and needles) in the hands and feet, numbness in the hands and feet, decreased energy, loss of mental focus, fatigue, depression, anxiety, sore tongue, altered sense of taste, short-term memory loss, clumsiness, and difficulty walking, running or jumping without stumbling.
Other disorders and illnesses linked with vitamin B12 deficiency are inflammatory bowel disease (IBD- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), lupus, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, celiac disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
Because vitamin B12 deficiency shares so many symptoms with chronic fatigue syndrome, it might go untreated. For that reason, it is advisable for people suffering from CFS or FM to get their vitamin B12 blood levels checked routinely.
Read more about fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome:
What is Fibromyalgia? Here are top 6 frequently asked questions (FAQs) expressed by fibromyalgia syndrome patients, and answers.
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, then consider yourself in good company. About one in fifty Americans suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms, including muscular pain, fatigue, depression, and sleep problems.
Fibro fog, the tendency to forget things almost instantaneously, is another common complaint among fibromyalgia patients.
Q: What is fibromyalgia syndrome?
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a condition closely related to Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
With fibromyalgia, patients feel severe muscle aches and pain in specific points of the body, in addition to extreme exhaustion. Three to one, more women suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms than men do.
Fibromyalgia sufferers describe pain symptoms as hurting all over, burning sensations, muscular twitches, and sometimes, skin ailments, such as dry and itchy skin rashes, or extreme sensitivity to touch.
Avoiding physical exercise or leading a sedentary lifestyle didn’t give you fibromyalgia, but they can make it worse.
Even moderate, light aerobic exercises benefit fibromyalgia patients by lifting the mood, increasing blood flow to the brain, enhancing muscle tone, and increasing energy.
Doctors recommend individuals with fibromyalgia include gentle stretching routines and light aerobic workouts into their daily schedule. Tai Chi, yoga, and swimming are excellent workouts that increase flexibility without causing pain.
It’s not often that you wake up feeling refreshed or energized, not if you have fibromyalgia.
Sleep disorders such as alpha-EEG anomaly are common among fibromyalgia sufferers. In studies, fibromyalgia patients had difficulty achieving “stage 4” deep sleep, due to constant brain activity. As a result, participants woke up feeling weary, exhausted, as if they had been up all night.
Some possible explanations for lack of sleep in fibromyalgia patients include:
Restless leg syndrome
Tossing and turning
Q: Are there any dietary supplements that treat fibromyalgia?
Yes- in addition to vitamin B12, there are many natural ingredients that
support a healthy immune system
enhance muscle tone
promote cognitive integrity
impart an overall sense of well-being and peaceful state of mind
Supplements that benefit fibromyalgia patients include:
Most people who have fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) also suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), as the two conditions share comorbidity with each other. So, how do you to tell if you have fibro fog, chronic fatigue…or both?
About 80 to 90 percent of all chronic fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue sufferers female. Also, fibromyalgia sufferers share many of the same symptoms, such as severe chronic pain and mental exhaustion.
If that’s the case, then how does one tell the two conditions apart?
So we know what features CFS and FMS have in common, but what criteria do physicians use to tell them apart?
The basic difference is that fibromyalgia is that fibromyalgia involves specific pain points, while chronic fatigue has no rhyme or reason.
However, that’s only a rough description.
Factors that differentiate fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome, compared with 1 million who suffer from chronic fatigue. If you suspect you have one or the other, seek a fibromyalgia diagnosis first.
A rheumatologist often determines fibromyalgia, while an infectious disease specialist is more likely to diagnose CFS.
2) The substance P factor
Fibromyalgia patients have 300% more substance P, a chemical that your brain uses to spread pain signals throughout your body. The more substance P your body emits following an injury, the stronger your body’s reaction to pain.
If you have fibromyalgia, then you suffer three times the amount of muscular pain or joint aches than people who don’t have chronic illness.
3) It’s in the zone
There are approximately 18 distinct pain points throughout body that signal fibromyalgia syndrome. To receive a diagnosis, fibromyalgia sufferers must exhibit soreness in at least 11 of these specified zones. Conversely, chronic fatigue patients have no connection with the 18 pain points.
Chronic fatigue syndrome patients have higher levels of an antiviral enzyme, RNase L, leading experts to believe that CFS is the result of an autoimmune disorder following exposure to a virus.
While fibromyalgia often begins following an emotional trauma or physical injury, CFS generally appears because of a viral infection, like mono or the flu. Chronic fatigue sufferers often complain of residual flu-like symptoms and sore throat, in addition to exhaustion following physical exercise. CFS patients feel tired all day, even after sleeping a full eight hours.
“Fibro Haze” isn’t an acid rock band from the 70s- fibromyalgia brain fog is what happens when when your physical, emotional, and biochemical elements get together and decide to wreak havoc on your nervous system.
Oftentimes linked with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), the symptoms of fibromyalgia are confusion, tiredness and forgetfulness.
Do you have trouble remembering somebody’s name about one minute after she introduced herself?
Do you often forget where you parked your car, or which side of the mall you entered from?
How’s your math- do you have trouble adding up simple calculations in your head?
When you try to read, do you get distracted by every outside noise?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of different factors which can cause fibromyalgia and fatigue, making it all that much more difficult to get to the root of the problem.
1) Insomnia: If you’re not getting enough sleep, then it’s all downhill from here. Sleep disorders make it difficult for your body to produce enough serotonin, which is important for memory. Stick to a rigid sleep schedule, and don’t spend time on the computer less than 1 hour before bedtime. Try to avoid long naps in the middle of the day; twenty minutes should be your limit. If fibromyalgia nerve pain is what’s keeping you up nights, then test out an orthopedic support pillow, test-drive a different mattress, or ask your doctor about safe, gentle sleeping aids. B12 Deficiency Linked to Cognitive Decline, and more
2) Emotional upset caused by nerve pain: Chronic pain takes up a lot of your brain’s attention. It’s hard to focus on all the things that are happening around you when inside, your nerves are on red alert from constant pain signals. Some prescription pain medicines are helpful for alleviating aches. Ice compresses or heating pads are effective, as well. Many fibromyalgia sufferers are also finding that practicing tai chi helps relax their nerves and soothe muscular soreness. Why More Fibromyalgia Patients are Taking Tai Chi
3) Stress, anxiety and depression: Chronic stress and anxiety attacks lower your immunity and tire out your nervous system. If you can’t remove yourself from a stressful situation, then learn to cope- your health depends on it. Try yoga, deep breathing, light exercise and a healthy diet. If necessary, ask your doctor about antidepressants which help to prevent panic disorder. Chronic Depression, Chronic Pain- It’s All the Same, say Experts
4) History of child abuse: Recent studieshave noted a strong link between people who suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms and personal history of physical or mental abuse.
5) Family history: Ask your family members if chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain or fibromyalgia symptoms run in the family. If anything, at least it will help solve the mystery. Teens are No Stranger to Chronic Fatigue
6) Diet: An increasing number of CFS and fibromyalgia patients are finding that switching to a gluten-free diet has helped reduce some of the fibromyalgia symptoms, such as stomach problems, headaches and fatigue. Try seeking out some great non-gluten breads, mixes and sweets in the health food section of your supermarket, and see what happens! Can a Gluten-Free Diet Ease Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
What should you eat if you have fibromyalgia? Find out why many fibro patients say “Yes” to gluten-free dieting.
Do you suffer from fibromyalgia, a nerve disorder which affects at least 5 million Americans today, most of which are women?
As of yet, there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but you can find some relief by treating some of the symptoms- muscular soreness, headaches and exhaustion.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common side effect of fibromyalgia, can be alleviated by following a restrictive diet, so it should come as no surprise that many fibromyalgia sufferers have also found an increase in digestive health by following a gluten-free diet.
Gluten in diet
Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, corn, rye, spelt, Kamut and triticale. If you enjoy eating breads, pastas, cereal, sweets and other bakery goods, then you probably consume a lot of gluten in one day. Many food manufacturers are responding to the growing community of gluten-free dieters by producing gluten-free bread, cake mixes, soups and an assortment of other packaged goods.
Some people are either allergic to gluten or overly sensitive to it. It’s been estimated that roughly 1 out of 133 Americans are gluten intolerant, and if you’re one of them, then you might be experiencing chronic migraine headaches, digestive problems, fatigue and sore joints and muscles as a result of high gluten consumption. For many, switching to a gluten-free diet is beneficial.
Fibromyalgia patients have one thing in common with people who suffer gluten intolerance: a common list of ailments.
All may experience chronic digestive difficulties, bloating, headaches, sore joints, muscular pain, fatigue and trouble sleeping. Given the percentage of people who have gluten allergies or intolerance, it stands to reason that a significant amount of people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia might actually be suffering from an underlying sensitivity to gluten.
The only way to know for sure if gluten is responsible for your ailments is to cut it out of your diet. While the scientific research supporting the theory that gluten sensitivity can be linked with fibromyalgia symptoms is still lacking, a growing number of patients can attest to feeling healthier, more energetic and at ease as a result of making the switch to gluten-free.
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue affect 5 million Americans. While there are no cures for fibromyalgia, many sufferers benefit by supplementing with vitamin B12, which supports cognitive balance and boosts stamina.
May 12th was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. If you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, learn how vitamin B12 can help alleviate some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgiais a chronic neurological illness which causes excruciating pain and muscular weakness where no sign of injury or inflammation is apparent. Researchers are stumped as to the origin of this disease or how to cure it.
Chronic fibromyalgia pain is lifelong, and often takes a toll on job performance and relationships with friends and family. Medicine for fibromyalgia patients usually consists of pain medication, opiates or antidepressants.
Some common fibromyalgia symptoms are:
Chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain
Short-term memory loss
Numbness and tingling in hand, arms, legs and feet
Irritable bowel syndrome
Sinus/allergy symptoms, such as runny nose, sore throat, coughing and sneezing
Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS is a neurological disorder which causes profound exhaustion.
Unlike ordinary tiredness which can be slept off, chronic fatigue is not alleviated by sleep. Chronic fatigue syndrome shares many of the same symptoms as fibromyalgia, such as insomnia, muscular pain, headaches, sore throat and short-term memory loss.
Non-drug alternatives for chronic fatigue sufferers may include stress reduction, vitamin supplementation and physical therapy.
The CFS-fibromyalgia link
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are both neurological conditions, and it is common for individuals suffering from chronic pain and fatigue to be diagnosed with both. Studies linking fibromyalgia with chronic fatigue have confirmed a strong correlation.
About 75% of all fibromyalgia patients experience extreme fatigue.
94% of individuals diagnosed with chronic fatigue also report suffering from extreme muscular pain.
Studies linking the two conditions together have also noted that women make up the majority of both fibromyalgia pain sufferers and chronic fatigue patients.
Numerous studies have linked vitamin B12 deficiency with increased risk for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.
While nobody claims that vitamin B12 deficiency causes fibromyalgia, experts have nevertheless noticed improved cognitive and metabolic health when vitamin B12 shots are administered to sufferers of fibromyalgia.
Scientists have also noted low vitamin B12 levels where fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue occur, in addition to elevated levels of homocysteine, another common factor in chronic pain and vitamin B12 deficiency, and a possible risk for heart attack and stroke.
Fibromyalgia, often linked with Vitamin B12 deficiency (National Institutes of Health), is a condition which causes sufferers to feel chronic pain in various parts of the body at all times. According to the American College of Rheumatology, symptoms of fibromyalgia include severe pain in at least 11 points of the body which doctors access in order to diagnose fibromyalgia.
These 9 pairs of pressure points on your body are are used by physicians to determine a fibromyalgia diagnosis:
Pain on either side of the back of the neck could indicate fibromyalgia; neck pain might also be caused by sleeping in an awkward position or by rheumatoid arthritis.
The front of the neck is another hot spot for fibromyalgia pain; potential sufferers may feel pain above the collarbone and adjacent to the larynx
.Tender spots below the bend of your elbows towards the outside of your forearms are typical for fibromyalgia patients; tendonitis or repetitive motions may also cause elbow pain.
Fibromyalgia patients often feel pain in the lower hip areas, close to the buttock muscles, while arthritis patients typically experience pain at the joints of the hips.
Approximately 25% of all adults experience lower back pain. Individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia feel their back pain at the lowest point where the spine adjoins with the buttock muscles.
Most people experience upper back pain every once in a while as a result of stress or injury; people with fibromyalgia experience extreme discomfort at the points where the shoulder blades connect with the back muscles.
Above the upper back area, where the shoulders meet the lower neck, are some more troublesome tender spots for fibromyalgia patients.
Fibromyalgia patients who suffer from knee aches tend to feel tenderness in the inner knee pad areas.
Soreness in the chest area, on either side of the sternum, is another telltale sign that somebody might require fibromyalgia treatment.