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can a car accident cause fibromyalgia?

Over a year ago was in a car accident and my muscles and joints hurt so bad most of the time its hard to have a normal day. Its not arthritis or lupus and Dr's are now saying fibromyalgia..I also have extreme burning in my joints and neck is this also a symptom of fibromyalgia?  
31 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi Jodi,
   The answer to your question is yes.  The best thing for you to do is get on line and find a support group in your area for fibromyalgia and they will lead you to a good doctor in your area.  If there is no group available, look for a rhuemetologist that handles fibro.  Not all do.  This disease (if you are diagnosed) can change your life and you need to get all the support you can find.  I have lived with it for over 15 years and once I started paying attention to what my body was telling me and worked with it gently-it made a huge difference.  Good luck.


147426 tn?1317265632
Jody, How were you injured in the car accident?  Would you describe the way the pain developed?  Where did it start?  Where did it move to?

What's the pain like now?  Is it any different from when the injury first happened?

Do you have a burning sensation on the skin?  Are you sensitive to very light touch?  Have there been any skin changes on the parts that hurt?  Temperature or color changes, swelling?

These are important questions.  Depending on the answers there may be another diagnosis than Fibro.

Looking for your answers, Quix
Avatar universal
The car accident was just over a year ago and it was a severe accident where myself and my girlfriend were lifeflighted.  The pain I felt then I don't remember much of . I was on so many different drugs. The pain I felt was I wasn't able to walk because of bruising all up and down legs and from a burn on my leg and just being tossed around in the car and of course headaches from the concussion.  After a few months of healing I thought my legs were doing better as far as pain went. And then I started feeling  a burning in my knees and neck instead of the feeling like I had beaten by a baseball bat after accident pain.  They did an MRI of my knee and said it was a minescus tear and went in to do surgery and he said it wasn't torn just did a lot of scraping.  And that didn't help the pain in my knee.  That suregery was like 6 months after the accident and I never have felt any relief. Now the pain is in my other joints its moving into my ankles and my wrists and sometimes I feel pain on my hips. I burn so bad mainly on neck and knees that I can't walk or do my daily chores most of the time and if I have a better day I pace myself.  Im in therapy again and the therapist say my muscles are so tight so can't do a deep massage cause of the pain i feel in certain parts of my neck where she touches. I also get very deep sharp pains in my knees.  I feel that certain parts of my body are way more sensitive to touch than other. Right behind my neck and some spots are down lower on my back. I'm getting the same burning pain and the same stiffness now in my elbows and inside of my elbows but this has just come on in the last few months not with the other pain first.  I find myself in a state of confusion a lot ..I am so forgetful I feel dumb.. I can't remember anything.  No one knows how this feels and I've never felt this way before the accident and I'm starting to feel hopeless over here. Im going to a chiropractor Friday is that a good idea? I need to know whats wrong with me...Please help me ...
Avatar universal
I forgot to mention a few other things that have suddenly started changing. I don't know if this has any relevance to anything but my bowel movements have changed. Either I struggle to go or its totally the other way around.  And I can sleep thru the night and still wake up feeling like I didn't sleep at all. Or I go thru stages where I go w/out sleep for days.  My Dr. and therapist have me using treadmills and using bikes and walking aAnnd using some kind of neck stretcher on me, are these things I should be doing?..And my eyes seem more sensitive than normal.  I was working to become a dog trainer and haven't been able to do that in over a year and am working hard to get back to it but no matter how much I do its not working.  And can't squat. I can't bend my knees past a certain point..Very hard to get in bath, so I only take showers.  Take percocet for pain and it don't really work its like a bandaid for a minute. And I use to be able to take a whole percocet but also in the past few months I've been getting dizzy and nausious and have vomited in car and taking a percocet makes it worse but still feel that way w/out taking one. My therapist said it could be vertigo??..I've also been given neurotnin which really doesn't seem to help either.  Sorry for writing so much I just feel like I need to be heard and for someone to know that this pain is real!!!!!
147426 tn?1317265632
I'm concerned that you have developed something called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  It used to be called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.  This needs to be treated as soon as possible by a comprehensive pain management team.  The evolution of diffuse, burning pain after trauma, hypersensitivity to touch, stiffness.

Jody, I want you to answer each of these questions, even if you think you answered them before, okay?

In the limbs with the most pain are there any skin changes?  

Is there - or has there been - swelling in the painful limbs?  

Do you have a difference in color or temperature between a painful part and other areas that aren't as painful?  Blotchy or red, or pale and white or blue?  Has there been a change in the color or temperature from the time just after the car accident to now?

Are you saying that some of the painful areas have become "more" stiff than they were initially?

Would you say that some of the painful areas seem to be much more painful than they should given how much they were injured?

Any area that seems to sweat more than another?

The other problem is the dizziness.  You should be evaluated by a neuro-otologist, a specialist in vertigo/dizziness.  I can talk to you later about how to find such a specialist.

Please answer as soon as possible.  Who is managing your pain right now?

Avatar universal
Skin changes on areas I that were hurt I dont' see any visible skin changes.
Swelling yes I've been swollen in areas that have hurt. Not a lot much more though as I use to..

Temperatures YES..matter of fact had to be taketo hospital once after accident and the nurse told me that my one leg was way more cold than the other..and I still feel like that but not only with leg.

Yes I have lots of  skin changes where there was NO injuries...sometimes i develop a rash on my chest and when i scratch my head it hurts I get red in the face where I had no injury and my husband or someone will ask me if I've been in the sun when I haven't..I burn under my armpits...

I hope I answered your questions right...I also get not a lot but often shooting pain especially up one leg
Avatar universal
My dr. now is managing my pain (family dr.) and say after this percocet is gone she don't want to give me anymore pain meds. she wants me to go on cymbalta..I don't want to do that. she said all my tests have come back normal and suggested fibro but never went further than that. I feel like I'm not being listened to..

And yes the stiffness is way worse in the knees and now its getting stiff in my wrists and ankles and I get more swelling in my knees than anywhere else. also, my left knee gives out quite a bit and I can't pivot or make fast movements or sometimes just standing there it gives out.  I was taken back by the temperature question know ones ever asked me that before and I have never brought that up..
147426 tn?1317265632
I think your doctor whould SERIOUSLY consider the diagnosis of

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Type I or Type II
(also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)

This requires aggressive pain management and usually a team approach.  I think you you should talk to your doc about it and ask for a referral to a major pain management center - like at a university.

If you want I will give you the links to medical articles which your doc can read.  You might print them out and take them inCutting off the narcotic is not the solution, though you may need a different type of med than pill.  I think the idea of Cymbalta is great.  It should help your brain deal with all the false pain messages it is getting, but I doubt that the Cymbalta alone will be sufficient.

Would you like me to find the articles?

Avatar universal
If you would please find me those articles that would be great.  I just got back from the chiropractor and he says that he thinks all my problems are severe muscle damage...Would this also be something to consider?
147426 tn?1317265632
No, I don't agree that what you have experienced is severe muscle damage.  That would have shown up as severe weakness immediately after the accident and not evolved over time.

However, I just rethought what I said.  Over time, the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can result in atrophy (wasting away) of the muscles in the painful limbs from disuse. So in that sense, your exam now could look like severe muscle damage.

No, I feel strongly (from the information that I have) that you are suffering from a well-known complication of trauma.  It is hard to treat, but if there is any hope of improvement (and there IS) you need people who know the disorder and can manage all of it's aspects.  You are right in the gender/age group for it to occur, too.  When docs are unaware of this Pain Syndrome, they tend to treat you as is you are over-reacting to the pain because it is out of proportion to what they see or expect.  They also don't believe that the pain could/would increase and involve new areas.  So they start treating you as hysterical or as a drug seeker.

That's why you need to get into a Pain Management Clinic SOON!  Your doctor can call around to see who is really experienced in treating this.Here are some articles to read and print out.  Just be prepared, it may annoy your doctor.  People who "surf their symptoms" can come up with wildly inappropriate ideas that really take time for the doc to discuss and educate.  In reality any doc should be open to new ideas on tough cases, but egos can be very strong!!  If you want, say a doctor friend of the family (far away) suggested this and had you print the articles.  That way you are "innocent" of diagnosing yourself.  It's a harmless lie and can save you some grief.  You will have to decide which approach is better, given your relationship with your doctor.

Here are a couple of links:  When you read the articles it may sound worrisome.  I'm sorry, When the pain has gone on for many, many months it is harder to treat.  You may need to be firm in requesting referral to a pain clinic.  And it should be at a large center, not some chiropractor down the street.





I hope these help.  Please stay in touch, Quix
Avatar universal
It never occured to me that this may upset my Dr. until you said something and I can tell you she will not take kindly to my doing this..She said all tests have been run and are all negative and we will never know whats wrong..
Do you have any Drs. names you could give me who are knowledgeable in this area?  I don't care how far away they are, I just want my life back..And if you can't I understand..

Thank you for everything you have done..Its all very much appreciated.
Avatar universal
It never occured to me that this may upset my Dr. until you said something and I can tell you she will not take kindly to my doing this..She said all tests have been run and are all negative and we will never know whats wrong..
Do you have any Drs. names you could give me who are knowledgeable in this area?  I don't care how far away they are, I just want my life back..And if you can't I understand..

Thank you for everything you have done..Its all very much appreciated.
147426 tn?1317265632
I say give your doc a try.  Give her the info "through the back door." A friend of the family's sent this --whatever.  Then if she gets her back up and defensive you can change doc's.  I can try to give you some suggestions for pain clinics.  Would you be willing to reveal your zipcode or state or region of the US.  If it's out of the US or Canada, I'm not sure if I could help.

147426 tn?1317265632
Another idea is to bring someone with you to the appointment like your mom or a partner.  This will force the doctor to be a little more circumspect in her reaction.  Also, both of you or more should read these articles so that you can have an intelligent conversation with her.

If you have read much of what I write on this forum, you know I have also been treated as a hysterical woman and as a drug-seeker.  I do know how you feel, and how hard it is to ask for more meds once the doors of the doc's interest close.  It's really hard and it's hard on your self image.  As far as possible , I'll be here for you.

147426 tn?1317265632
I'm sorry for the multiple posts.  I'm just not thinking of things at the same time.  You can send me your general location at an email address I set up just for this forum.

***@**** (cute, huh?)
Avatar universal
I will give her a try and take my husband with me.  I have taken all my drugs into that I have been given over the last year the drugs I get and never take so I hope she's not thinking its for the drugs. the only ones I take is percocet and they don't even work anymore.  I think she just thinks its all in my head..But, I will try her and give her a chance.  Forgot to mention and this probably has no bearing on anything but 3 days before the accident I had my last breast cancer surgery.  I don't mind giving my zip code out or where I live. I live in Ashtabula County, Jefferson to be exact and my zip code is 44047..

Thank You so much for everything I will let you know how she reacts.
147426 tn?1317265632
You're actually close to the Claeveland Clinic, no?  They have Pain Management Center.  It should be good.  Quix
Avatar universal
I was just taking a look at Quixotic's answer and just wanted to let you know that is exactly what I was thinking when I read your post.  My mother has the RSD in her right leg and foot as a complication of bilateral knee replacement surgery.  Her foot muscles have atrophied to the point where she is walking on her ankle almost.  I know from listening to the neurologist at her pain clinic that trauma like your car accident can also can this disorder.  She has been in severe pain and has been undergoing nerve blocks.  She has already had two of those procedures with no help, but the doc says it may take several nerve blocks before she sees any difference.  The important thing is definitely catching this early and doing something about it quickly.  

I myself have fibromyalgia, as well as my mother and her brother.  My uncle has chiari malformation which has caused his fibromyalgia.  This can occur after a car accident, especially if you experienced bad whiplash.   You would need an MRI of the neck to rule that out.  I agree with Quix though (she is very knowledgeable) that this sounds more like the RSD.

I hope you get some answers soon.  I know you must be experiencing terrible pain.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your support and help. I did go back to my family Dr. and took my husband as you suggested before and told her that I had talked to someone who told me my symptoms sounded like complex regional pain syndrome and she was very open to that and said its a great possibility and she also thinks that I have fibromyalgia as well. She referred me to a Dr. in Willoughby named Dr. Harold Bowersox and wants me to do pain management as well. She put me on lyrica for the burning because of the nerve damage. We were in there for about 30 mins. with her and I was amazed at how great she was with me. I even told her I was on this site and she said thats great because she loves any feedback she can get and that this is the best site to go on for information. Now my left knee feels like its shifted tho and we didn't have time to get into that with her. When I walk I don't feel like Im walking straight anymore my knee feels like its shifting, or just not straight. I don't know its weird.  But at least now I feel like Im getting somewhere and am NOT crazy..Thank you for your suggestions and your support...
Avatar universal
I have had Fibro for 12 years...its a struggle to find what works for you.  I did not have good luck with the 14 different meds I was tried on.  Alot of them were anti-depressants.  I found after going through the pain clinic at Mayo Clinic, that reducing caffeine (sp); walking even through your house to start, water and a lower fat diet helped me more than any drugs the docs tried to push!  It was tough for me to get going on the walking especially with so much pain, but going slow and steady got me up to 1.5 miles a day.  That was harder to do than quitting smoking!!!  I had a husband and kids kinda pushing me, and I guess I just had to get mad enough to do it...I thank them now!!!
Avatar universal
Forgot to mention...If you feel you are not being listened to, you're in the wrong place.  I went through that, and still do for different symptoms, for months before anyone even suggested Fibro.  Infact I had to tell my doc that my mom had it for 3 years before he would even check the tenderpoints!  All I have to say is don't come to South Dakota for an intelligent neuro-check...
Avatar universal
The not feeling like you are walking straight can definitely be a symptom of RSD.  Your muscles will begin to atrophy and thus will not be able to hold the weight of your body up.  If I walk behind my mother it looks as if she is walking on her ankle because of the muscle atrophy in that foot and leg.  This will also mess up your gait.  Something to talk to the pain clinic about.

Avatar universal
Thank you for your responses..My new Dr, has been great and is willing to listen to me and try new things..Is sending me to Pain management and was not at all upset when I chose not to take cymbalta. She did put me on lyrica for nerve burning and have to slowly work my way up to 3 a day. Between those and percocet I feel so tired and blah, hopefully that will go away soon. Never feel anything but tired..This Dr. she's sending me to Bowersox is suppose to be excellent and has written books on fibro and other diseases. Has been to China for research and is very personable cant wait to meet him but can't get into see him until Sep.  My Dr. wants me to stay in therapy which is helping. But if my last day is on a Thursday and I don't go back to therapy until tues. all the burning and stuff comes right back. And now something is happening where if I scratch anywhere on my body it hurts..Im very very sensitive to touch even on the top of my head!!..I think stress makes it worse. And Im worried about having to get my sons graduation party together and hes getting married in Oct. and I have to go get my results back on my genetics testing for certain cancers and have been told if my results come back positive they are talking about doing a double masectomy and a total hysterectomy.  The reason for the genetics testing was because I had breast cancer at the same time the accident happened and the cancer I had makes me more prone to having other cancers. So my question is does stress make my symptoms worse? One thing that does help tho is getting on here and reading everyones responses and knowing that there is help out there and that others are going thru similar things and that this can all be treated and there is hope..So thank everyone for there responses and words..By the way, this post took me about 30 mins because I kept forgetting what I was going to say...LOL..that happens all the time.
Avatar universal
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