Symptoms & Causes

What is fibromyalgia? What are fibromyalgia symptoms?

Fibromyalgia is a non-life-threatening, chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread pain and stiffness in the muscles and the surrounding soft tissues (including tendons and ligaments), general fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points in specific areas of the body. Unlike arthritis, fibromyalgia is not associated with pain or swelling in the joints because with fibromyalgia there is no inflammation of the joints, muscles, or other tissues. Fibromyalgia symptoms may also include morning stiffness, headaches, jaw pain, digestive problems (e.g. IBS), painful menstrual periods, urinary issues, numbness or tingling of the extremities, restless legs syndrome, temperature sensitivity, cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as “fibro fog”), and a variety of other symptoms.

Fibromyalgia causes

Although we still don’t know the underlying cause (or causes) of fibromyalgia, we are starting to develop an understanding of the basic mechanisms responsible for fibromyalgia symptoms. In patients with fibromyalgia, the nervous system doesn’t seem to process sensory information correctly. Painful stimuli are perceived by the brain as significantly amplified. This is called central sensitization.

The central sensitization phenomenon explains why fibromyalgia patients are more sensitive to stimuli and why a stimulus that would not produce pain in the general population will result in a pain response in a fibromyalgia patient.

Another difference between fibromyalgia patients and the general population is the processing of painful stimuli:

  • If a painful stimulus is produced in a repetitive fashion, patients with fibromyalgia experience more rapid increases in perceived pain then people in the general population.
  • After the stimulus stops, pain subsides more slowly in fibromyalgia patients.
  • If a very low level of stimulus is maintained, fibromyalgia patients perceive pain indefinitely, while the general population eventually stops perceiving the pain and adapts to the stimulus.

Because of this abnormal sensory processing, conventional physical therapy techniques and exercise approaches are usually too aggressive for patients who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Read more about our fibromyalgia treatment philosophy and protocol

testimonialsI was in my first year of college when my fibromyalgia pain stated preventing me from attending school. I was devastated and depressed. I was staying in bed all day because of pain. I lost all my friends and had no idea how I would live my life. My psychiatrist wanted me to see Teresa for hypnosis and physical therapy for pain. I did not believe it would work, but I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a try. And it worked! It was a slow process, but now I am able to study full-time, I am going out with my friends and I know that as long as I take care of myself (doing my daily exercises and self-hypnosis) I will be O.K.

-Female, 19

testimonialsTeresa’s compassion and competent treatment have left me almost pain-free for three years now. I had been in chronic pain for several years prior to seeing Teresa, and Teresa made good on her promise to help me. Teresa’s expertise in fibromyalgia treatment led me to understand the disorder better and take measures to prevent any flare-ups and improve my quality of life.

-Female, 39

testimonialsThe connection between the mind, body, and spirit serves as the platform for Teresa’s healing hands. She provides the ultimate physical therapy experience in her beautiful, tranquil office. By encouraging your spiritual self to confront physical weaknesses, Teresa assists you by bringing both into harmony by integrating physical treatments with hypnotherapy. Teresa’s light touch during manual therapy session makes your experience comfortable, pleasant, and healing and her soothing voice allows you to completely relax when you are in hypnosis. I don’t know what I would have done without Teresa. She has taken me from the unmotivated, depressed, chronic pain patient, and has brought forth optimism and inner strength, making me dedicated to my life and my recovery process.

-Female, 44

testimonialsI came to Teresa with fibromyalgia, old injuries, and assorted sensitivities. I was delighted to find that she’s a highly skilled, compassionate, dedicated practitioner who’s constantly learning more, training more, and doing more for her patients. As far as I’m concerned, myofascial release and craniosacral therapy with Teresa are the way to go for chronic pain and soft-tissue conditions.

-Female, 61

testimonialsI came to see Teresa after all other treatments for my fibromyalgia had failed. I had also developed repetitive stress injury that prevented me from working as a computer professional. When I first saw Teresa, I was in constant pain. I was not able to type even one sentence on a computer, and writing by hand was difficult. I had to stop after one or two sentences because of the pain. I felt discouraged and disillusioned because I had seen many doctors and therapists, and none of their treatments were helpful. I was afraid there was no help available to me. Well, I was wrong. Thanks to Teresa, I no longer suffer from pain. I work full-time and write for pleasure after work. Teresa is truly a miracle worker!

-Female, 33

testimonialsI have fibromyalgia. After many years of working with physical therapists and personal trainers and failing miserably because my body did not tolerate any exercise, I finally found Teresa, who knew exactly how to work with patients like me. I have never worked with anyone who would be as patient and as knowledgeable as Teresa. Initially, she was teaching me very simple movements, combined with breathing and for the first time in my life I wasn’t accused of being a lazy wimp. And I actually could do Teresa’s exercises without flaring up pain. As we went along, I was able to tolerate more and more activity. Now I have a customized exercise program, which I enjoy and which my body tolerates and I do it every day. I am so grateful to Teresa because I believe that my daily exercise routine helps me manage my debilitating condition.

-Female, 38

testimonialsI am not a patient of Teresa (my wife was), but I wanted to write a testimonial because her work with my wife has saved my life and my marriage. My wife has suffered from chronic pain, anxiety and depression all her life, which somehow we managed until 10 years ago, when it became unbearable. I was at the end of my rope (not to mention my poor wife!) and our life, as well as our marriage started falling apart. My wife’s acupuncturist suggested that my wife sees Teresa for hypnosis and specialized “massage”. This turned out to be a true life saver for both of us. My wife is now much more comfortable physically. And emotionally, this is the first time since I have known her she is optimistic and focused on things other than her pain (which is now greatly reduced). I cannot thank Teresa enough. I recommend her treatment to any person who suffers from chronic pain.

-Male, 58

testimonialsI have had fibromyalgia symptoms since I was 16, I was diagnosed at the age of 30. In addition to providing pain relief through myofascial release, craniosacral therapy and ultrasound, Teresa has taught me how to control my thoughts and manage flare ups through self-hypnosis. I also learned how to pace my activities and what exercises to do every day to maintain my body as comfortable as it can be, given my condition. I know I will have fibromyalgia for the rest of my life, but now I also know how not to let it get to me.

-Female, 49

testimonialsTeresa helped me tremendously with my fibromyalgia pain and disabilities resulting from that diagnosis. When I met her, I was not able to work. I was socially isolated, and my life, in general, was a mess because of constant pain. My body was weak, and I was fatigued just thinking about any activity. Teresa was the first person who understood how to treat me without aggravating my symptoms. At first, she had to use the gentlest techniques (she was barely touching me), but I was pleased to see by how well the treatment worked. Within six months, I was able to start doing gentle exercises, and my pain was significantly reduced. A year from the start of my treatment I was able to work part time and half a year later I returned to work full-time. I still continue exercises that I learned from Teresa and if I ever needed treatment for any condition, I would not go to anybody else!

-Female, 54

testimonialsTeresa is a master clinician and diagnostician, and a rare, wonderful healer. After several awful experiences with physical therapists and programs which used the “no pain, no gain” exercise approach to healing chronic muscle and tissue pain and inflammation, I was referred to Teresa. Teresa’s approach was totally different from I saw in other clinics. She did hands-on therapy (which was amazingly effective), taught me gentle exercises and stretches, and guided me slowly back to increased functionality—with humor and tough love.

-Female, 52