Muscular pain, tingling, burning, and numbness are common symptoms of a repetitive strain injury. However, these symptoms are also common in a condition called Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia basically means pain in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. It affects mostly women and up to 4% of the general population.
The pain of Fibromyalgia occurs in areas where the muscles attach to bone or ligaments and is similar to the pain of arthritis. The joints themselves are not affected, however, so they are not deformed nor do they deteriorate as they may in arthritic conditions.
The pain typically originates in one area, usually the neck and shoulders, and then radiates out. Most patients report feeling some pain all the time; and many describe it as “exhausting.” The pain can vary, depending on the time of day, weather changes, physical activity, and the presence of stressful situations; it has been described as stiffness, burning, stabbing, sudden, radiating, and aching. The pain is often more intense after disturbed sleep.
The other major complaint is fatigue, which some patients report as being more debilitating than the pain. Fatigue and sleep disturbances are, in fact, almost universal in patients with Fibromyalgia, due to lack of serotonin in the blood.
Several years ago Fibromyalgia was a disability categorized as “psychological”. It’s hard to understand how it feels to be told you are mentally having a problem when your body will not perform what you are asking it to do. How can that possibly be mental? Patients were, in effect, being told it was “all in your head”. Fortunately, the medical field has produced enough research to re-classify it as a true physical disability that is often paired with studies and treatments for arthritis and rheumatism.