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Numbness and Tingling in Fibromyalgia Syndrome

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 10 Jan 2019 |
Fibromyalgia Syndrome Pain Numbness

Fibromyalgia syndrome is most commonly associated with widespread pain, but its symptoms can also include numbness and tingling, particularly in feet, legs, arms, hands and face. This is called paresthaesia, and is seen in around one in four people with the syndrome.

What Causes Numbness and Tingling in Fibromyalgia Syndrome?

It’s not completely clear what causes numbness and tingling in people with fibromyalgia syndrome. One cause behind it may be the muscle spasms and muscle stiffness that are common with the disorder. These can lead to the tingling and numbness because the tense muscles press on and irritate the nerves.

Around 40% people with fibromyalgia syndrome have cold-induced vasospasm. Blood vessels normally constrict a certain amount when it’s cold, to direct the blood away from the skin and keep the inner organs warm, but in cold-induced vasospasm, the blood vessels in the extremities go into spasm and close up completely. This stops blood going to the fingers and toes (and sometimes even the end of the nose and the earlobes), so they tingle, and then become white, cold and numb. As the areas warm up and the blood starts moving again, they can begin to tingle once more, and become red. This stage can become very painful.

Cold-induced vasospasm is uncomfortable and unpleasant, and looks quite distressing, but usually doesn’t cause any long-term harm. However, if it happens often or for prolonged periods, a few people find that they develop ulcers on the tips of the fingers and toes because of the lack of blood supply.

What to Do for Muscle Spasms?

If the numbness and tingling is caused by muscle spasm or muscle stiffness, try gentle stretching, heat or ice to release and ease the muscle. Regular light exercise can also help to keep muscles flexible and so may reduce future attacks of numbness and tingling.

If the numbness and tingling is triggered by a sitting, standing or lying in a particular position, try to find an alternative position, and change position regularly. For example, if sitting at a desk typing triggers it off, make sure that the desk and chair are set up correctly, and try to alternate different types of work. Remember to take regular breaks to move around and stretch, which will ease the muscles.

What to Do for Cold-Induced Vasospasm?

If the numbness and tingling is caused by cold-induced vasospasm, avoid getting too cold by wearing layers, perhaps with silk or cotton gloves and socks under heavier woollen mittens and socks. Sudden changes in temperature, even on not particularly cold days, can trigger the vasospasm, so tuck spare gloves in bags and coat pockets, and keep a pair of gloves in the car glove box or in the desk drawer.

Shaking the hands can get the blood flowing back to the tips of the fingers. Hand warmers that produce heat as part of a chemical reaction can also help, as can taking medications that dilate (open up) the blood vessels.

If numbness and tingling is a new symptom, it’s important to see a doctor, because it could be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome or multiple sclerosis, or hypoglycaemia or peripheral neuropathy in diabetes.

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I have found this helpful. I suffer from paresthesia on account of fibromyalgia/ Sjogren syndrome. It occurs in lying down position. I could not understand the reason. But found your articles helpful in helping me diagnose my problem. Thank you
Jyoti - 10-Jan-19 @ 12:18 PM
@doglover. I'm afraid we can't advise on medical symptoms. Your obvious best course of action would be your GP. Although diagnosing fibromyalgia can be difficult, as there is no specific test that can diagnose the condition, however your GP may give you blood tests to rule out other similar conditions and there are certain criteria that might link to fibromyalgia. I hope this helps.
FibromyalgiaSyndrome - 12-Nov-14 @ 12:57 PM
I have Sjogren's Syndrome but saw a new Rheumy today who believes that I also have fibromyalgia.He does not feel that Sjogren's can cause all the pain and symptoms that I have.I am sort of surprised as I have done much research on Sjogren's and belong to an on line support group and really was under the impression that my autoimmune disease was causing most of my problems.I was told by another Rheumy that he did not believe I had fibromyalgia.This can make you crazy.Since there are really no tests for it hard to know who is right and who is wrong.I do have all the symptoms but Sjogren's also has many of the same symptoms.Very frustrating.Any advise?
doglover - 12-Nov-14 @ 2:51 AM
I have numbness and tingling in both thighs and the toes on my left foot go dead in the cold. The GP has done bloods but I don't expect him to find anything but I may be getting checked out for MS.
esoteriquette - 22-Nov-11 @ 3:03 PM
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