Paroxysmal symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia
Paroxysmal is a term that describes some symptoms of fibromyalgia that come on very suddenly, last only a few seconds or minutes and then disappear.
Many symptoms of fibro can come and go in a paroxysmal way including pain, physical feelings and difficulties with vision.
What are paroxysmal symptoms?
Paroxysmal is a term for any Fibro symptom that begin suddenly and only last for a few seconds or a few minutes at most. However, these symptoms may reappear a few times or many times a day. They may be painful and disrupt your everyday activities.
Many symptoms of Fibro can come on in a paroxysmal way including:
* trigeminal neuralgia which gives stabbing or burning sensations down the side of your face, usually on one side only
* altered sensations in your skin such as itching, numbness, tingling, burning or aching
* shooting pains in the arms or legs which can be very brief but still take your breath away
* problems with vision including double vision (diplopia)
* swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
* slurring of speech (dysarthria)
* dropping things, weakness, usually in your legs or feet, which can cause unsteadiness or a fall
* lack of coordination and dizziness which may cause you to stumble or drop things
What causes paroxysmal symptoms?
Paroxysmal symptoms are due to sudden, electrical signals in nerves.
Paroxysmal symptoms can be triggered by movement, touch, fatigue, hyperventilation (breathing too quickly), temperature change or emotional stress.
What can I do if I have paroxysmal symptoms?
If you are aware of any triggers for your paroxysmal symptoms, such as making a particular movement or getting too hot, you could try to avoid these. Keeping a symptom diary can be helpful in identifying triggers that you may not be aware of.
Techniques like mindfulness that help you to live in the present moment rather than wondering about what might happen in the future, can be helpful.
How are paroxysmal symptoms treated?
Paroxysmal symptoms may be treated if they interfere significantly in your everyday life. Just because they are intermittent, doesn't mean they are less important. However, they can be difficult to treat because they appear without warning and each burst only lasts a short time. Also, they often stop after a few months so treatment may be unnecessary. Any treatment will depend, to a large extent, on the specific paroxysmal symptom that you are experiencing
If you are concerned about paroxysmal symptoms, contact your Doctor.
Altered sensations are fairly common with Fibromyalgia. You might feel pins and needles, burning or crawling sensations, numbness or tightness.
These unusual sensations are a type of nerve (neuropathic) pain. Although the feelings seem to be in the skin, they are actually due to damage caused by Fibromyalgia which disrupts messages passing along nerves in the central nervous system.
What are altered sensations?
Altered sensations can occur in any part of the body, most commonly in the face, body, arms or legs, but may also include the genital area in both men and women. It may occur on just one side of the body or on both sides.
There are many ways that people with fibro describe altered sensations including:
* Burning Tingling Pins and needles Crawling Numbness Prickling Sensitive skin Wetness Stabbing Electric shock Itching Trickling
Although altered sensations in Fibro may feel itchy, there is no rash or sign of skin irritation unless you’ve been tempted to scratch the itchiness.
Health professionals may ask you whether:
* there is a lack of sensation, as in numbness, or a gain of new sensation, for example a burning feeling
* the altered sensation is painful or not
* the feeling is set off by touch, heat or other triggers or just happens for no obvious reason.
* Allodynia: where something like a light touch feels painful, even though it shouldn’t cause pain
* Paraesthesia: an annoying unusual sensation, like tingling or numbness, which may be triggered or just happen spontaneously
* Dysaesthesia: a more intense, sometimes painful, feeling which happens spontaneously
* Sensory symptoms, a more general term for altered sensations.
Although the sensation feels like it is in a particular part of your body, such as your fingertips, there is no damage to the tissues in your hand. The only damage is in the nerves which report to your brain about your hand and this is what makes it seem like there is something wrong with your fingertips.
What can I do if I have altered sensations?
Altered sensations may go away completely without treatment or they may return periodically. Persistent symptoms can be difficult to treat. If the altered sensation is having a major impact, your health professionals may suggest drug treatments. Otherwise, managing any trigger factors or changing how you carry out daily tasks may be helpful.
Although altered sensation sometimes feel itchy, there is no rash or sign of skin irritation so creams which are typically used to treat skin irritation, such as hydrocortisone, and other skin calming lotions, like calamine, are not helpful.
If altered sensations are interfering with your daily activities, an occupational therapist may be able to provide equipment or make suggestions to help. This is particularly true for numbness, for example:
* numbness in the feet can cause difficulty walking as it is hard to feel the floor. This could increase the risk of falls
* numb hands may make it difficult to write, dress or hold a cup, knife or other object safely
* severe numbness in the face can increase the risk of biting the inside of the mouth or tongue whilst eating or chewing
* numbness in any part of the body can increase the risk of burning yourself without realising so it may be important to take care around hot water, fires and other sources of heat.
How can I manage altered sensations myself?
* Triggers. If your altered sensation is triggered, for example, by touch, heat or going out in the wind, you could try avoiding or minimising the trigger. Wearing looser clothing, applying a cool pack or wearing a scarf may be helpful in these cases.
* Change your habits. It can be helpful to change the way that you usually do something. A different style of pen, cup or knife may be easier to hold. A more upright, supportive chair could be helpful. Think carefully about why you do something the way that you do – it can be surprising how often it is just out of habit. Challenge yourself to think creatively so that you come up with new ways of doing things that are easier for you. Ask your family, friends and colleagues to work with you so that they understand how these changes will help you.
* Sexual issues. Numbness or reduced sensation can affect the genital area for both men and women with Fibro and potentially pleasurable sensations can become uncomfortable. You can read more about sexual issues for men and women with Fibromyalgia
* Other options. Many of the tips for managing pain yourself also help with altered sensations. They include using heat, cold or relaxation techniques as well as keeping positive and sharing your thoughts about your symptoms and their impact.
Everyone is different so you may need to try a range of different options before you find what works best for you. You may need to do several at once for the best effect. Some people prefer these approaches to drug treatments as there is less worry about side effects.