Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than 3 months. That’s the main symptom of fibromyalgia: widespread muscle pain and tenderness that lasts longer than 3 months. Widespread pain is defined as pain both above and below the waist and on both the right and left sides of the body.
At its best, fibromyalgia may be described as “mild.” At its worst, intense pain can get in the way of doing normal day-to-day activities.
Some fibromyalgia sufferers describe their pain as “all over” or “everywhere.” For some people, the pain and stiffness are worst when they wake up. Then it improves during the day. Symptoms may increase again at night. But other people have all-day, non-stop pain. This could include combinations of neck pain, arm pain, shoulder pain, back pain, hip pain, knee pain, feet pain, and pain in just about every other body part.
The pain may get worse with physical activity, stress, or anxiety. Fibromyalgia patients may also be more sensitive to things around them. This may include heat/cold, bright lights, loud sounds, and more. Even a gentle hug could be painful. Read more about how fibromyalgia is different from other kinds of pain.
Pain is the core symptom of fibromyalgia, but different people feel the pain in different ways. Fibromyalgia pain may be felt as:
In a survey conducted by the National Fibromyalgia Association, people with fibromyalgia reported the symptoms in the chart below. Most of these symptoms are on top of their ongoing, chronic widespread pain. Some of these symptoms may come from additional conditions that can occur in patients with fibromyalgia.