Fibromyalgia Tingling: Identification, Symptoms & Coping Strategies

Table of contents

Fibromyalgia Tingling: Identification, Symptoms & Coping Strategies

If you're experiencing what's known as "fibromyalgia tingling", it's understandable that you're looking for answers. This type of tingling can be quite unsettling and is often not well understood.

In this article, we're going to explore what these tingling sensations feel like, where they occur the most, and what causes them.

We'll also help you differentiate the tingling caused by multiple sclerosis as opposed to fibromyalgia and equip you with the knowledge to manage fibromyalgia tingling.

What does fibromyalgia tingling feel like?

Imagine dealing with a persistent tingling sensation, similar to the feeling of countless pins and needles randomly dancing under your skin. Or perhaps you've felt a disconcerting numbness that raises alarm. Some describe it as the creepy-crawly feeling of invisible insects marching over their skin.

People who live with fibromyalgia often experience paresthesia – any abnormal sensation of the skin that doesn't have an apparent physical cause. These sensations are common and varied, and can include tingling, pricking, burning, numbness, and gnawing discomfort.

These tingling sensations are not constant. They tend to come and go, appearing intermittently, and can vary in intensity.

Where is fibromyalgia tingling most common?

The areas that are most commonly affected by tingling associated with fibromyalgia, are your extremities: the hands, feet, and face. However, just like pain, tingling isn't limited to these areas – some people report tingling sensations along their arms, legs, and even occasionally on their torso.

What causes fibromyalgia tingling?

Central sensitization

At the core of fibromyalgia tingling is an overactive nervous system – the brain and spinal cord1.

In fibromyalgia, the central nervous system becomes excessively sensitive, known as central sensitization. This disordered state amplifies the way we process physical sensations and leads to an altered perception of pain. This is why stimuli such as gentle pressure can feel extremely painful. And because the central nervous system stretches across the whole body, pain, fatigue and other symptoms can be widespread.

Autoimmunity

Autoimmune responses may contribute to the tingling sensation experienced in fibromyalgia. This occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissues as if they were foreign invaders akin to bacteria or viruses.

In conditions such as fibromyalgia and ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), this immune response could damage nerves or other components of the nervous system, causing the symptoms that you experience. However, not everyone with fibromyalgia will have an autoimmune response.

Small fiber neuropathy & its impact

The tingling sensations that many individuals with fibromyalgia report are often linked to a condition known as small fiber neuropathy. This condition affects the small nerve fibers in the skin, as well as those in the internal organs and limbs, leading to symptoms that include a prickling feeling, a sensation of burning pain, and the characteristic tingling.

Studies indicate that nearly half of people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia has evidence of small-fiber neuropathy. This means that there is a potential correlation between small-fiber neuropathy and the tingling sensations you might experience2.

Is my tingling from multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia?

When experiencing a tingling sensation, it's natural to wonder whether it's a sign of multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia since both conditions share similar symptoms.

People with fibromyalgia describe the pain and tingling as a dull ache, through to a burning or shooting pain. There may also be tender spots in muscles and tendons from which pain radiates. Whereas MS affects nerves throughout the body. Damaged nerves may fire without cause, leading to pain and other sensations in one or multiple areas.

Although there is no definitive test for fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis can be identified through an MRI3, so if you are concerned, chat to you doctor.

How to treat fibromyalgia tingling?

A comprehensive multi-disciplinary strategy is essential to managing tingling associated with fibromyalgia. Incorporating the following can help manage your symptoms.

Retraining your pain

To retrain your response, it's important to realize that pain, tingling and other symptoms aren't just about physical sensations; they are influenced by the full range of your biological, psychological, and social circumstances.

Taking the time to understand your triggers, whether they're caused by stress, beliefs or behaviors can help. Once you've identified your triggers, you can start to change them, for example through nutrition, sleep, and movement, or use techniques based on neuroplasticity to change how your brain reacts to these triggers. With practice and dedication, you can gradually reshape your brain's response, leading to a reduction in the intensity and impact of fibromyalgia on your life.

Stress management

While it's not realistic to eliminate stress completely, managing it can lessen its impact on your fibromyalgia symptoms. Techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, other relaxation methods, and seeking emotional and social support from peers, counselors, or community groups can all contribute to stress reduction and better management of stress responses.

Sleep quality

Sleep is an essential self-care strategy for everybody, and a cornerstone in managing your fibromyalgia symptoms.

We know that good sleep can be elusive. An overwhelming majority, over 90%, of people who live with fibro find it challenging to achieve the deep sleep necessary for rejuvenation. To improve your sleep – and, in turn, ease many of the symptoms you're wrestling with – consider these tips:

  • Settle into a regular sleep schedule. Aim for eight hours each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.
  • Keep naps brief. Short power naps can be refreshing without throwing off your nighttime sleep.
  • Stay active during the day. This helps you fall asleep more easily at night.
  • Cut down on screen time before bed. This helps your mind relax and makes it easier to drift off to sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a tranquil oasis. It should be dark and quiet to encourage uninterrupted slumber.
  • Watch your caffeine intake, especially later in the day. It can stay in your system for hours and disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime. They can affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Remember to rest your heart, body, and mind in other ways too. This supports your overall sleep hygiene and helps manage your symptoms more effectively.

Movement & exercise

Movement and exercise may seem daunting, but they are your allies in managing pain. By engaging in physical activity, you can improve your mood, increase your energy, and enjoy better sleep. And this is turn can help dial down that incessant tingling.

It's important to choose activities that you enjoy and that suit your current health status – this could be yoga, dancing, or even tending to your garden.

Start with gentle, low-impact exercises and gradually build up your strength and endurance. Remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself during this process. By starting slowly and listening to your body, you can safely increase your activity level without overexerting yourself.

Physical therapy & massage therapy for fibromyalgia

If gentle movement is challenging for you, seeing a physical therapist can help you find the type of movement that will work for you. They can also share techniques for making movement more comfortable, for example, by using heat packs to warm up your muscles before you try stretching or exercising. This technique can ease the discomfort of fibromyalgia pain, making physical activities more tolerable and effective

Massage therapy can also aid in the control of pain and mitigate anxiety and depression symptoms if those are part of your fibromyalgia experience5.

Complementary therapies for symptom relief

Some people with fibromyalgia find that complementary therapies, including acupuncture and massage therapy, can alleviate their symptoms.

Acupuncture is considered a safe and effective method for easing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This traditional Chinese medicine technique involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body4.

Always consult with your physician before beginning any form of complementary treatment.

When to consult your doctor about fibromyalgia tingling

If you find that the tingling sensation from fibromyalgia becomes persistent or so severe that it disrupts your daily activities, it's important to consult with a doctor. Immediate medical advice is particularly necessary if the tingling spreads quickly to new areas of the body or occurs without any apparent reason.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall wellbeing.

Our program also provides psychological support, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and stress management tools, empowering you to navigate the emotional challenges associated with fibromyalgia.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.

  1. Clauw DJ, Arnold LM, McCarberg BH; FibroCollaborative. The science of fibromyalgia. Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Sep;86(9):907-11. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2011.0206. PMID: 21878603; PMCID: PMC3258006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258006/
  2. Lodahl M, Treister R, Oaklander AL. Specific symptoms may discriminate between fibromyalgia patients with vs without objective test evidence of small-fiber polyneuropathy. Pain Rep. 2017 Dec 16;3(1):e633. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000633. PMID: 29430562; PMCID: PMC5802321. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5802321/
  3. Siracusa, R.; Paola, R.D.; Cuzzocrea, S.; Impellizzeri, D. Fibromyalgia: Pathogenesis, Mechanisms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options Update. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22, 3891. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22083891
  4. Zhang XC, Chen H, Xu WT, Song YY, Gu YH, Ni GX. Acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Pain Res. 2019 Jan 30;12:527-542. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S186227. PMID: 30787631; PMCID: PMC6365227. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6365227/
  5. Li YH, Wang FY, Feng CQ, Yang XF, Sun YH. Massage therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89304. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089304. PMID: 24586677; PMCID: PMC3930706. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930706/

Fibromyalgia Tingling: Identification, Symptoms & Coping Strategies

Table of contents

Fibromyalgia Tingling: Identification, Symptoms & Coping Strategies

If you're experiencing what's known as "fibromyalgia tingling", it's understandable that you're looking for answers. This type of tingling can be quite unsettling and is often not well understood.

In this article, we're going to explore what these tingling sensations feel like, where they occur the most, and what causes them.

We'll also help you differentiate the tingling caused by multiple sclerosis as opposed to fibromyalgia and equip you with the knowledge to manage fibromyalgia tingling.

What does fibromyalgia tingling feel like?

Imagine dealing with a persistent tingling sensation, similar to the feeling of countless pins and needles randomly dancing under your skin. Or perhaps you've felt a disconcerting numbness that raises alarm. Some describe it as the creepy-crawly feeling of invisible insects marching over their skin.

People who live with fibromyalgia often experience paresthesia – any abnormal sensation of the skin that doesn't have an apparent physical cause. These sensations are common and varied, and can include tingling, pricking, burning, numbness, and gnawing discomfort.

These tingling sensations are not constant. They tend to come and go, appearing intermittently, and can vary in intensity.

Where is fibromyalgia tingling most common?

The areas that are most commonly affected by tingling associated with fibromyalgia, are your extremities: the hands, feet, and face. However, just like pain, tingling isn't limited to these areas – some people report tingling sensations along their arms, legs, and even occasionally on their torso.

What causes fibromyalgia tingling?

Central sensitization

At the core of fibromyalgia tingling is an overactive nervous system – the brain and spinal cord1.

In fibromyalgia, the central nervous system becomes excessively sensitive, known as central sensitization. This disordered state amplifies the way we process physical sensations and leads to an altered perception of pain. This is why stimuli such as gentle pressure can feel extremely painful. And because the central nervous system stretches across the whole body, pain, fatigue and other symptoms can be widespread.

Autoimmunity

Autoimmune responses may contribute to the tingling sensation experienced in fibromyalgia. This occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissues as if they were foreign invaders akin to bacteria or viruses.

In conditions such as fibromyalgia and ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome), this immune response could damage nerves or other components of the nervous system, causing the symptoms that you experience. However, not everyone with fibromyalgia will have an autoimmune response.

Small fiber neuropathy & its impact

The tingling sensations that many individuals with fibromyalgia report are often linked to a condition known as small fiber neuropathy. This condition affects the small nerve fibers in the skin, as well as those in the internal organs and limbs, leading to symptoms that include a prickling feeling, a sensation of burning pain, and the characteristic tingling.

Studies indicate that nearly half of people who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia has evidence of small-fiber neuropathy. This means that there is a potential correlation between small-fiber neuropathy and the tingling sensations you might experience2.

Is my tingling from multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia?

When experiencing a tingling sensation, it's natural to wonder whether it's a sign of multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia since both conditions share similar symptoms.

People with fibromyalgia describe the pain and tingling as a dull ache, through to a burning or shooting pain. There may also be tender spots in muscles and tendons from which pain radiates. Whereas MS affects nerves throughout the body. Damaged nerves may fire without cause, leading to pain and other sensations in one or multiple areas.

Although there is no definitive test for fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis can be identified through an MRI3, so if you are concerned, chat to you doctor.

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How to treat fibromyalgia tingling?

A comprehensive multi-disciplinary strategy is essential to managing tingling associated with fibromyalgia. Incorporating the following can help manage your symptoms.

Retraining your pain

To retrain your response, it's important to realize that pain, tingling and other symptoms aren't just about physical sensations; they are influenced by the full range of your biological, psychological, and social circumstances.

Taking the time to understand your triggers, whether they're caused by stress, beliefs or behaviors can help. Once you've identified your triggers, you can start to change them, for example through nutrition, sleep, and movement, or use techniques based on neuroplasticity to change how your brain reacts to these triggers. With practice and dedication, you can gradually reshape your brain's response, leading to a reduction in the intensity and impact of fibromyalgia on your life.

Stress management

While it's not realistic to eliminate stress completely, managing it can lessen its impact on your fibromyalgia symptoms. Techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), mindfulness meditation, other relaxation methods, and seeking emotional and social support from peers, counselors, or community groups can all contribute to stress reduction and better management of stress responses.

Sleep quality

Sleep is an essential self-care strategy for everybody, and a cornerstone in managing your fibromyalgia symptoms.

We know that good sleep can be elusive. An overwhelming majority, over 90%, of people who live with fibro find it challenging to achieve the deep sleep necessary for rejuvenation. To improve your sleep – and, in turn, ease many of the symptoms you're wrestling with – consider these tips:

  • Settle into a regular sleep schedule. Aim for eight hours each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.
  • Keep naps brief. Short power naps can be refreshing without throwing off your nighttime sleep.
  • Stay active during the day. This helps you fall asleep more easily at night.
  • Cut down on screen time before bed. This helps your mind relax and makes it easier to drift off to sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a tranquil oasis. It should be dark and quiet to encourage uninterrupted slumber.
  • Watch your caffeine intake, especially later in the day. It can stay in your system for hours and disrupt your sleep.
  • Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime. They can affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Remember to rest your heart, body, and mind in other ways too. This supports your overall sleep hygiene and helps manage your symptoms more effectively.

Movement & exercise

Movement and exercise may seem daunting, but they are your allies in managing pain. By engaging in physical activity, you can improve your mood, increase your energy, and enjoy better sleep. And this is turn can help dial down that incessant tingling.

It's important to choose activities that you enjoy and that suit your current health status – this could be yoga, dancing, or even tending to your garden.

Start with gentle, low-impact exercises and gradually build up your strength and endurance. Remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself during this process. By starting slowly and listening to your body, you can safely increase your activity level without overexerting yourself.

Physical therapy & massage therapy for fibromyalgia

If gentle movement is challenging for you, seeing a physical therapist can help you find the type of movement that will work for you. They can also share techniques for making movement more comfortable, for example, by using heat packs to warm up your muscles before you try stretching or exercising. This technique can ease the discomfort of fibromyalgia pain, making physical activities more tolerable and effective

Massage therapy can also aid in the control of pain and mitigate anxiety and depression symptoms if those are part of your fibromyalgia experience5.

Complementary therapies for symptom relief

Some people with fibromyalgia find that complementary therapies, including acupuncture and massage therapy, can alleviate their symptoms.

Acupuncture is considered a safe and effective method for easing the symptoms of fibromyalgia. This traditional Chinese medicine technique involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body4.

Always consult with your physician before beginning any form of complementary treatment.

When to consult your doctor about fibromyalgia tingling

If you find that the tingling sensation from fibromyalgia becomes persistent or so severe that it disrupts your daily activities, it's important to consult with a doctor. Immediate medical advice is particularly necessary if the tingling spreads quickly to new areas of the body or occurs without any apparent reason.

More information

At MoreGoodDays®, we embrace a multidisciplinary approach tailored to support you in managing fibromyalgia. Recognizing the comprehensive impact this condition has on your life, we integrate diverse strategies to address your unique needs.

Through educational resources and self-management techniques, you'll gain insights into fibromyalgia and effective symptom management. We'll guide you in making lifestyle adjustments, focusing on areas such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to enhance your overall wellbeing.

Our program also provides psychological support, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and stress management tools, empowering you to navigate the emotional challenges associated with fibromyalgia.

Together, we're committed to helping you lead a healthier, happier life despite the challenges of fibromyalgia.

Download our mobile app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for immediate access to some of our content and to see your support options.