Fibromyalgia is a medical condition of unknown etiology that causes pain in specific trigger points. More women than men appear to have the disease. There are other symptoms of fibromyalgia besides aches and pains. In fact, a recent survey of forty patients who suffer from fibromyalgia say that the second most annoying symptom after pain is the symptom of fatigue. Unfortunately, many of the clinical trials on fibromyalgia currently underway are focused on how the treatment or medication affects pain and not fatigue.
The individuals surveyed did not know that the subject of the research was on the fatigue of fibromyalgia so they gave honest and open comments indicating that fatigue was a common problem of fibromyalgia without being led to say so. Instead, they were asked open ended questions, such as “What is your experience with the disease of fibromyalgia?”
The participants who partook in the study had fibromyalgia for an average of 6.6 years and were, on average, 49 years of age. In keeping with the epidemiology of fibromyalgia, 70% of participants were women.
The symptoms they spontaneously reported having because of having fibromyalgia included the following:
- Pain (78% of people)
- Fatigue (43% of people)
- Insomnia and other sleeping problems (18% of people)
- Difficulty in mobility (10% of people)
In the study, fibromyalgia fatigue was identified as being an extreme degree of tiredness that was unrelieved by trying to get more rest or sleep. The fatigue was out of proportion to the amount of work the participants did. It didn’t take very much work, for example, for the individual with fibromyalgia to feel extremely fatigued. It wasn’t just the typical form of fatigue.
There were 8 categories of fatigue included in the study. The study participants described each form of fatigue they experienced as part of their daily lives with this condition.
The 8 categories of fatigue included the following:
- Extreme and overwhelming feelings of fatigue (43%); people with this type of fatigue were so strongly affected that they were sometimes unable to do anything at all.
- Fatigue that is not resolved by sleeping or resting (38%); the fatigue was so all encompassing that it lasted in spite of getting an adequate night’s sleep.
- Fatigue that is out of proportion to the amount of effort the patient exerted (63%). This meant that even a little bit of activity contributed to extreme fatigue.
- Feeling heavy or very weak (28%); when fibromyalgia patients feel this symptom, the body feels extremely heavy, lacking in any kind of strength and instead feeling very weak.
- Difficulty in feeling motivated to do anything (83%); this means that it takes an exorbitant amount of effort to get things done or even to get out of bed in the morning to begin one’s day.
- Problems doing activities the patient really wants to do (60%); this means that the degree of tiredness or fatigue is such that the patient can’t engage in tasks that they really want to do.
- Needing to accomplish things more slowly (38%); this means that it takes a longer amount of time to accomplish things because of ongoing feelings of weakness or heaviness.
- Problems concentrating, remembering things, or thinking (68%); in general, it means that the tiredness and fatigue affects the brain in such a way as to impair memory, concentration, clear thinking, and remaining focused.
It was noted that the symptoms did not differ among men and women. The impact of fatigue was the same in both genders and had a significant impact on the sufferer’s life. The actual impact of fatigue as an isolated symptom has yet to be identified.