Written by: SphynxCatVP
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Many real vampires often complain of various aches and pains. While it can easily be chalked up to "overdoing it" with various strenuous activities, sometimes a person will eventually be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Due to the number of people that seem to be diagnosed with it, others have gotten an impression that Fibromyalgia is a vampire symptom - when it's most definitely NOT.

This article will go into an overview of Fibromyalgia as well as list some of the other conditions that doctors and other medical professionals may get confused with Fibromyalgia, either accidentally or out of laziness.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues with systemic long-term pain and "tender points", sometimes called "trigger points", that are even more painful with pressure. It has also been linked to fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, morning stiffness, and numbness in the extremities. It may develop on it's own or along with conditions such as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, but either way it severely impairs daily activities.

Primarily, women are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, however men and children may also be affected. Most of the patients are diagnosed when they are middle aged (30-50), though the symptoms may have been present for years prior to the actual diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Widespread pain is the primary symptom. This means there is:

  • Pain in the left side of the body
  • Pain in the right side of the body
  • Pain above the waist
  • Pain below the waist
  • Pain in the neck, front of your chest, mid-back, or low back

Many patients also experience fatigue, sleep issues, sensitivity to touch/light/sound, and possible cognitive difficulties. (If you aren't getting quality sleep, that can certainly be one cause of being unable to think clearly.) Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety / Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches / migraines
  • Impaired coordination
  • Irritable bowel
  • Memory / concentration issues, a/k/a "fibro fog"
  • Overactive bladder
  • "Restless legs syndrome"
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stiff joints first thing in the morning
  • Swelling, numbness, and tingling in the extremities
  • Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 known "tender points"
  • Vision problems

Stress from the chronic pain and chronic fatigue can cause anxiety, especially when it interferes with daily activities and the patient's ability to hold a job. This will lead to the patient becoming less active, which can, in turn, lead to depression.

Sleep disturbances and poor sleep quality can lead to having memory and concentration issues, as well as problems with coordination.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The causes are currently unknown, but patients have reported a variety of "triggering events" that may have lead to their Fibromyalgia issues. Such events may include auto accidents, repetitive injuries, recent serious illness and so on. For others it seems to occur with no evident cause.

Researchers are looking at other theorized causes, such as issues with the central nervous system and how it processes pain, whether the patient has chemical sensitivities, whether the patient has genes that mean they don't process pain properly, and so on.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

There is no definitive test for Fibromyalgia at this time; typical objective laboratory tests don't reveal any physiological cause for the pain.

As a result, patients often see many doctors before receiving the diagnosis; one reason is that the pain and fatigue associated with Fibromyalgia are common in many other diseases as well. Because most of the Fibromyalgia patients are women, doctors are often quick to say the pain is all their head, or that there is nothing they can do (since no specific cause comes up on tests.)

Widespread pain is the primary symptom, so subjective diagnostic criteria start with that. Pain is considered to be widespread when it affects both the left and right sides, as well as above and below the waist.

There are 18 designated "tender points" on the body that the American College of Rheumatology uses as criteria for classification. The patient may have pain in OTHER areas as well, but the other areas don't count for diagnostic criteria. Patients - especially men - may not have any of those points being painfully tender, but they will be more tender than those of a person who does not have Fibromyalgia.

An interesting observation in sleep studies is that the deep sleep most people experience is interrupted in Fibromyalgia patients by signals that normally happen when the patient is awake. This disrupts the normal sleep pattern, resulting in ineffective sleep, and leading to more pain and thinking/memory issues. (It should be noted that there are other things that can cause this problem besides Fibromyalgia, so this is not a definitive test either.)

Some laboratory tests can be used to rule out other issues - such as inflammatory problems - to at least rule out other causes of the symptoms.

How is fibromyalgia treated?

There are only three medications approved by the FDA specifically for Fibromyalgia These are Cymbalta/duloxetine (an antidepressant), Lyrica/pregabalin (for chronic pain caused by nervous system damage), and Savella/milnacipran (similar to an antidepressant, but only approved for Fibromyalgia)

In general, other frequently used categories are:

  • Analgesics (Tylenol, etc.)
  • NSAIDs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc.)
  • Antidepressants (partly to promote restorative sleep)
  • Benzodiazepines (Klonopin, Valium, etc.)
  • Other medications as needed for specific symptoms

In addition, patients may be advised to:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Do low-impact Exercise
  • Change work habits (cutting down on physical demands)
  • Eat well (proper nutrition never hurts)

What other diseases can have (some of) the same symptoms?

Many other - sometimes life threatening - diseases can have at least some of the same symptoms, especially pain. Things like irritable bowel can lead to a variety of problems due in part to the digestive tract not absorbing nutrients the way it should, potentially leading to various nutritional deficiencies. The list of diseases with similar symptoms includes, but is not limited to:

What does this have to do with real vampires?

Some real vampires have pain when they haven't fed in an extended period of time - however, this pain will go away when they get to feed again. Fibromyalgia pain will still be there and need to be dealt with, whether they've fed or not, so Fibromyalgia is NOT a true symptom of real vampirism.