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Joint and Muscle Pain

Aching muscles and stiff joints are fairly common PMS symptoms. One effect of the hormonal fluctuations that characterize the menstrual cycle is that they impact the levels of neurotransmitters such as endorphins in the body. Since endorphins increase feelings pleasure and reduce pain, when their levels fall, pain is felt more intensely. Hence, muscles ache, joints are stiff, and there is a general feeling of being sore all over.

Of course, determining whether muscle and joint pain are really symptoms of PMS has to do with the timing of the symptoms. PMS a constellation of very different symptoms that happen to occur the second half of the menstrual cycle. If you have other PMS symptoms in addition to joint and muscle pain, and these symptoms occur reliably before your period, it’s likely that you have PMS. However, there are disorders in which joint and muscle pain are major symptoms that are either intensified by PMS or mimic PMS. To get the best treatment, it’s important to ascertain that your achiness is not caused by some condition other than PMS.

Fibromyalgia

In many ways, fibromyalgia looks like PMS: body pain, fatigue, stiffness, depression, and gastrointestinal pain and discomfort are among its major symptoms. Many people with fibromyalgia have sleep disorders, and like PMS, the condition is aggravated by stress. Also like PMS, fibromyalgia's symptoms can improve or worsen over time.

But unlike PMS, which combines physical, emotional, symptoms, the predominant feature of fibromyalgia intense and chronic pain. Many fibromyalgia sufferers describe pain as a deep muscular aching, or a throbbing or twitching Their sleep is disturbed and their symptoms are often worse mornings. Like PMS, fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose: it average of five years for people to be properly diagnosed.

Question

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia consists of pain in all four quadrants of the body minimum of three months, and pain in at least eleven of eighteen specified tender points when pressure is applied. It is often considered to be related to arthritis; although unlike arthritis, fibromyalgia does not cause inflammation or damage to the joints.

More women than men have fibromyalgia, and it usually women between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five. In the stages of the disorder, symptoms may appear together for few days at a time—another way in which this illness can PMS.

Researchers believe that fibromyalgia is caused when the central nervous system abnormally processes sensory signals, which causes pain to be intensified. Other theories suggested that fibromyalgia is related to abnormally low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal gland. Women with PMS may have low cortisol levels as well. In addition, fibromyalgia patients also have low levels of serotonin (as do PMS sufferers) and increased substance P in the spinal cord (this is the protein substance in the spine that increases awareness of pain).

Alert

PMS and painful periods can also be symptoms of fibromyalgia! See your doctor if, in addition to severe PMS, you have symptoms consistent with fibromyalgia.

Although there is some overlap with PMS symptoms, fibromyalgia’s major symptom is intense and chronic body pain. Here are some other key symptoms:

  • Exhaustion/fatigue

  • Sleep problems or insomnia

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Dizziness

  • Impaired memory

  • Restless leg syndrome

  • Skin sensitivity and rashes

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the condition of having an underactive thyroid gland. People with hypothyroidism often have weight gain, dry skin, constipation, and joint pain, as well as muscle weakness, cramps, and stiffness. Since hormones are involved in the development and function of connective tissue (like that in joints), an imbalance in thyroid levels can lead to a thickening in the joints.

In general, hypothyroidism is not associated with PMS (only about 5 percent of women with PMS have hypothyroidism), but women with this condition may notice that their PMS improves if they receive thyroid hormone treatment.

Fact

Hyperthyroidism, or Graves' disease, is an autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid is overactive. It can cause muscle weakness but not muscle or joint pain. Other symptoms include trouble sleeping, weight loss, irritability, heat sensitivity, a lighter menstrual flow, rapid heartbeat, and hand tremors. Contact your doctor if you suspect you have Graves' disease. Left untreated, this condition can lead to heart problems or other serious issues.

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