Fibromyalgia Symptoms of Systemic Dysfunction

Do You Have These Fibromyalgia Symptoms of Systemic Dysfunction?
By Sue Ingebretson

For those of us with fibromyalgia and other related chronic health challenges, the symptoms we experience run the gamut. From annoying facial tics to whole body pain, it’s hard to pin down where one symptom ends and another begins.

If there’s any collection of symptoms that most of us with fibromyalgia understand, it’s our tendency toward hyper-sensitivity.

We’re super-sensitive to sights (lights), sounds, smells, foods, chemicals (airborne, dietary, topical), touch, the stressful energy surrounding others, and more.  

Are you a super-sensitive soul?

Where does this sensitivity come from? Is it something we simply expect as part of our fibromyalgia diagnosis?

The systemic connection

The sensitivities we experience are part of systemic dysfunction. We experience imbalances in multiple systems of the body. For example, the following body systems are affected in different ways:

  • Digestive system
  • Respiratory system
  • Circulatory system
  • Muscular system
  • Reproductive system
  • Endocrine system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Urinary system
  • Lymphatic system
  • Nervous system

One that comes to mind is the topic of an exaggerated startle reflex. A while ago, I blogged about this in my article, “The Startling Truth About Being Startled” and was amazed at the wide response. Readers were shocked, surprised, grateful, and even relieved to find that they were not alone.

What body system relates to feeling nervous, antsy, and feeling as if we could jump out of our skin when startled?

The endocrine system

The endocrine system may not be as familiar as some of the other body systems, but when we learn that its primary function is to regulate hormones, the correlation becomes clearer.

Hormonal shifts are linked to mood, sleep, concentration, body temperature regulation and much more.

Part of the endocrine system includes the adrenal glands which are responsible for body functions related to heightened awareness. Dysfunction of the adrenal system is linked to a myriad of symptoms – including an exaggerated startle reflex

Symptoms of adrenal dysfunction (74!) in no particular order:

  • Unrestorative sleep (feeling as if you hadn’t slept, even if you did)
  • Fatigue
  • Intolerant to stress
  • Food cravings (sweets and/or salty)
  • Shifts in weight
  • Inability to lose weight (if overweight)
  • Blood pressure imbalance (either too high or too low)
  • Cognitive dysfunction (fibrofog)
  • Reduced ability to cope
  • Feelings of constant overwhelm
  • Frequent infections (colds, flu, etc.)
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Increased PMS symptoms
  • Inability to either fall or stay asleep
  • Lack of stamina and/or endurance
  • Lack of get up and go
  • Energy bursts — all or nothing (rarely all/mostly nothing)
  • Feeling anxious or short-fused (as in, “You’re on my last nerve!”)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Increased allergies and/or asthma
  • Issues with memory / recall
  • Lightheaded when standing from a seating or reclined position
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Skin issues (any of these – dry skin, rashes, hives, psoriasis, etc.)
  • Frequent mouth sores
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibrous breast tissue
  • Panic attacks
  • Adrenaline rushes
  • Poor metabolism (especially of simple carbohydrates)
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Sensitivity to wireless connections, electric magnetic fields, etc.
  • Food sensitivities
  • Facial tics
  • OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Chemical sensitivities (i.e., to paint, cleaners, detergents, scented items, etc.)
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Frequent urination and / or thirst
  • Depression / sadness
  • Fatigued in the late afternoon (possible burst of energy in the evening)
  • Dependence on coffee, tea, energy drinks (caffeine or stimulants)
  • Increased abdominal fat
  • Inability to regulate body temperature (feel too cold, too hot)
  • Temperature intolerance (especially to heat)
  • Exercise worsens symptoms (slow recovery after exercise)
  • Early menopause
  • Infertility
  • Premature aging
  • Low back pain (other than from an injury)
  • Cold hands/feet
  • Diminished ability to focus
  • Heavy feeling in the hands, arms, or legs
  • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
  • Tinnitus
  • Numbness in the extremities / poor circulation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tenseness / inability to relax
  • Fibromyalgia (unchanged after basic treatments)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (unchanged after basic treatments)
  • Grave’s disease
  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Exaggerated startle reflex
  • Breast cancers due to estrogen dominance
  • Dizziness
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Headaches
  • Swelling / inflammation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Varicose veins
  • Hyperpigmentation (bronzing or brown patches on skin)
  • Pale lips (little to no color)
  • Oversensitivity to bright light (dependence on wearing sunglasses)

One main theme often heard when referring to adrenal dysfunction is that it leaves us feeling “Tired But Wired“. Is that you?

Knowing WHY is key

Adrenal fatigue isn’t a new topic. You may have heard it referred to as adrenal exhaustion, adrenal burnout, or adrenal insufficiency.

There are differences in the terms and meanings, but for the purposes of this article, we’re looking at adrenal dysfunction in the general sense.

You’re also likely to be familiar with the concept that adrenal issues are a fundamental root problem for those of us with fibromyalgia. The magnitude and impact of these issues vary, but the underlying problem stems from the same place.

Discovering the root origins of our health challenges is always a worthwhile endeavor. For starters, understanding the origins provides us with two key points:

  1. It gives us the comfort and awareness that our symptoms are initiated from systemic imbalances.
  2. Once we become aware of this connection, we have a better guideline of where to look for solutions and remedies.

Don’t underestimate the value of these points. If we feel that our symptoms are part of who we are – rather than part of a systemic imbalance – then we’re left feeling as if we’re defective or “broken” in some way.

There’s a BIG difference between believing a symptom is some sort of personality or character flaw and understanding that symptom’s role in our overall body’s functions.  

When we can view our health challenges as part of what we experience NOT who we are – we’re able to move forward in our healing journey.


So, now what?

Restoring balance to the body, in general, is where all healing begins. Whether we’re looking to restore the adrenal system (or any other system of the body), the results also affect fibromyalgia symptoms.

That’s why you’ll always hear these basic recommendations when looking to find healing solutions for fibromyalgia:

  • Diet
  • Detoxification (body movement)
  • Stress management

Additionally, you may wish to see physicians or naturopaths who specialize in adrenal health concerns. They may suggest protocols and supplements that can help to speed up the slow and steady process of healing from the inside out.

Here are a couple of other additional resources:

Check out this article, “3 Steps to Heal Adrenal Fatigue,” as it provides a useful overview of this process. It covers nutritional suggestions, stress management suggestions, as well as a list of supplements you may wish to try.

This article digs a bit deeper into the “Overlooked Causes of Adrenal Fatigue.”

Other thoughts?

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