Fibromyalgia can affect isolated body parts such as the shoulders and neck, but what about literally being on one side of the body, such as affecting only the left leg, left hip area, left shoulder and left arm?
If fibromyalgia could affect only one side of the body (multiple sections or body parts on one side), this would be termed “unilateral.” But can it actually occur?
“In general, no,” says Dr. Melissa Franckowiak, MD, an anesthesiologist in Lockport, NY, who treats people with fibromyalgia.
Dr. Franckowiak explains, “It is a constellation of symptoms of pain that are widespread. Fatigue is a huge component, so the entire body is affected.
“Pain is often described as a constant, dull ache throughout the body, and sleep disturbances are common.
“Painful myofascial trigger points that are common in fibromyalgia can certainly be worse on one side of the body, as can the migraine headaches that can occur concomitantly in fibromyalgia patients.
“But a specific site of pain on one area and side of the body should prompt your physician to look for the cause on that side, such as an overuse injury like carpal tunnel, tennis elbow or rotator cuff impingement.”
Pain on just one side of the body can occur in a person who has both piriformis syndrome or a lumbar herniated disc – along with a cervical herniated disc.
Piriformis syndrome and a lumbar herniated disc can both cause irritation to the sciatic nerve. The irritation can cause pain to occur in the lower extremity on one side.
The aching may begin in the butt and end in the foot, or begin in the upper leg and run down to the lower leg.
A cervical pinched nerve can cause pain in the shoulder running down the arm.
In these conditions, usually just one side is affected. So if you have both conditions, it’s always possible that pain that’s always on the same side of your body can be generated by irritated nerves.
These conditions can occur in someone with fibromyalgia but are not caused by fibromyalgia.
An MRI would show a compressed or pinched nerve anywhere along the vertebral column.