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The widespread pain of fibromyalgia is just one of the many symptoms that you have to put up with everyday. In fact, other symptoms may be what drives you to see the doctor, such as excessive sweating, dry eyes and mouth, constipation, dizziness, nausea, muscle weakness, unrefreshing sleep, and loss of sex drive. These symptoms and more are produced by abnormal function of the autonomic nervous system that controls all of your organs and can be documented by a simple 73-item questionnaire called the Composite Autonomic Symptoms Scale (COMPASS).
If the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system is responsible for your many non-painful symptoms, then the COMPASS scores for people with fibromyalgia (FM) should be significantly elevated over that of healthy control subjects. But, higher scores do not just reflect a widespread pain condition because Manuel Martinez-Lavin, M.D., of Mexico City, also compared the scores of FM patients with people who had rheumatoid arthritis (an inflammatory joint disease).*
Thirty women with FM, 30 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and 30 healthy control subjects completed the COMPASS questionnaire. In addition, the FM study participants completed the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ). The FIQ is a validated measure of how functionally impacted a person is with FM. Martinez-Lavin wanted to see how well the scores on the two questionnaires correlated with one another.
First, the COMPASS scores for the FM group were more than twice that of the RA group, while the scores for the RA group were double that of the healthy controls. Second, the higher the COMPASS score for a person with FM, the greater their FIQ score (the more their FM impacted them). These two findings indicate that FM patients have non-pain symptoms related to different problems of autonomic system function. It also shows that the symptoms caused by the autonomic malfunctions are an integral part of the FM.
Martinez-Lavin pointed out responses from FM patients to specific COMPASS questions that you may find very interesting:
- 57 percent felt they did not derive any restorative benefit from sleep, while 30 percent found sleep to provide some slight restorative value
- 59 percent are constipated all of the time while 21 percent frequently experience this symptom (implying that movement through the GI tract is slowed down)
- Compared to five years ago, 30 percent said they sweat much more than they used to, and another 37 percent said that their body sweating had increased somewhat. For those of you who experience hot flashes but you know it is not menopause, this could offer an explanation for the uncontrollable drenching that you get during the day and night.
- 63 percent said that their eyes felt excessively dry
- 63 percent said that their mouth felt excessively dry
- 57 percent felt dizzy or faint when standing up from sitting position (17 percent said this happens almost all of the time while 40 percent indicated it occurred frequently)
- 27 percent said they had a complete absence of sexual desire while 33 percent said it was greatly reduced
- Close to 60 percent said they feel “full” quicker than they use to (implying that it is taking longer for the stomach to empty)
If any of the above symptoms have been bugging you and your doctors have run tests to exclude other medical conditions as the cause of these symptoms, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
* Solano C, et al. J Clin Rheumatol 15(4):2009 [Epub ahead of print].
Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia
fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression,allergies