Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in specific areas of the body. It is considered a complex condition that affects the way the brain processes pain signals.

The real cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but researchers believe it involves a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. It is more common in women than men, and it typically develops during middle adulthood, although it can occur at any age.


Some factors that have been suggested as potential contributors to the development of fibromyalgia include –

  1. Genetic predisposition – Evidence suggests that fibromyalgia may run in families, suggesting a genetic component. Certain gene variations may increase the susceptibility to developing the condition.
  2. Abnormal pain processing – People with fibromyalgia often have heightened sensitivity to pain. It is believed that abnormalities in the way the central nervous system processes pain signals may play a role in the development of fibromyalgia.
  3. Neurochemical imbalances – Imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are involved in regulating pain perception, mood, and sleep, have been observed in individuals with fibromyalgia.
  4. Physical or emotional trauma – Physical trauma, such as injuries from accidents, infections, or repetitive injuries, may trigger the onset of fibromyalgia symptoms. Emotional trauma or psychological stressors, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or emotional distress, have also been associated with the development of fibromyalgia in some cases.
  5. Sleep disturbances – Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, are common in people with fibromyalgia. Sleep disturbances can contribute to the development and worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms.
  6. Other medical conditions – Fibromyalgia can coexist with other chronic pain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, suggesting that underlying mechanisms or shared risk factors may be involved. 

These factors have been identified as potential contributors to fibromyalgia, they do not necessarily cause the condition in every individual. The interplay between these factors and the development of fibromyalgia is still not fully understood, and further research is needed to better understand its underlying causes.


Fibromyalgia is characterized by a range of symptoms that primarily involve widespread pain, fatigue, and heightened sensitivity. Here are the common symptoms associated with fibromyalgia –

  1. Widespread pain – The hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain that affects both sides of the body and typically involves multiple areas such as the neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. The pain is often described as aching, stiffness, or burning sensations.
  2. Fatigue – Persistent fatigue and lack of energy are common in fibromyalgia. Even after getting sufficient rest, individuals may still feel tired and exhausted, which can impact their daily activities.
  3. Cognitive difficulties –  Many people with fibromyalgia experience cognitive difficulties, often referred to as “fibro fog.” This can manifest as problems with memory, concentration, attention span, and processing of information. It may lead to difficulties with tasks that require mental focus and can impact work, studies, and daily functioning.
  4. Sleep disturbances – Sleep problems are prevalent in fibromyalgia. Individuals may have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restorative sleep. They may wake up feeling unrefreshed and experience restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders.
  5. Tender points – Specific tender points on the body may be sensitive to touch and pressure in individuals with fibromyalgia. These tender points are usually located in symmetrical pairs, such as the back of the head, neck, shoulders, chest, hips, knees, and elbows.
  6. Headaches – Recurrent tension headaches or migraines are common in people with fibromyalgia.
  7. Digestive problems – Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is frequently associated with fibromyalgia, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
  8. Sensory sensitivities – Increased sensitivity to various stimuli, such as bright lights, loud noises, strong odors, and certain fabrics, is often reported by individuals with fibromyalgia.
  9. Mood disorders – Depression and anxiety are more common in individuals with fibromyalgia. Living with chronic pain and fatigue can take a toll on mental well-being.

Fibromyalgia symptoms can vary in severity and may fluctuate over time. If you suspect you may have fibromyalgia or are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and to discuss appropriate management strategies.

Diagnosis and Tests

The diagnosis is primarily based on a thorough clinical evaluation, including a review of symptoms and a physical examination. However, there are some tests that may be conducted to help rule out other conditions and support the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. These tests are mainly done to exclude other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Examples of tests that may be performed include –

  1. Blood tests – These can help rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms to fibromyalgia, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or thyroid disorders. Blood tests may check for markers of inflammation, autoimmune antibodies, or thyroid hormone levels.
  2. Imaging tests – X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or other imaging studies may be ordered to rule out structural abnormalities or other conditions that could be causing the symptoms.

These tests are not used to directly diagnose fibromyalgia but rather to exclude other potential causes of the symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it is made when other conditions with similar symptoms have been ruled out.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia primarily relies on a comprehensive assessment of symptoms, including widespread pain, fatigue, and other associated features, along with the presence of tender points and the exclusion of other conditions.

It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and to discuss appropriate management strategies based on your individual symptoms and circumstances. They can guide you through the diagnostic process and develop a personalized treatment plan.


The treatment of fibromyalgia aims to manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and help individuals function better on a daily basis. The treatment approach for fibromyalgia is often multidisciplinary, combining various strategies. Here are some common treatment options –

1. Medications – Medications may be prescribed to help manage fibromyalgia symptoms. These can include –

  • Pain relievers – Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may provide some relief for mild to moderate pain.
  • Antidepressants – Certain antidepressants, such as amitriptyline or duloxetine, can help alleviate pain, improve sleep, and reduce fatigue.
  • Anticonvulsants – Medications like pregabalin or gabapentin, which are typically used to treat seizures, can also help reduce fibromyalgia-related pain.

2. Physical therapy – Physical therapy and exercises tailored to individuals with fibromyalgia can help improve flexibility, strength, and endurance. Techniques such as gentle stretching, low-impact aerobic exercises, and water-based exercises can be beneficial in managing pain, reducing stiffness, and improving overall physical function.

3. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps individuals develop coping strategies and address the emotional and psychological aspects of fibromyalgia. It can assist in managing stress, improving sleep, and enhancing overall well-being.

4. Lifestyle modifications – Certain lifestyle changes can be helpful in managing fibromyalgia symptoms. These may include –

  • Getting sufficient sleep – Establishing a regular sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene can promote better sleep quality.
  • Stress management – Techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation can help manage stress and reduce symptom severity.
  • Regular exercise – Engaging in regular, low-impact physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, can help improve physical function, reduce pain, and enhance mood.
  • Balanced diet – Eating a well-balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods can support overall health and well-being.

5. Complementary and alternative therapies – Some individuals find relief from fibromyalgia symptoms through complementary approaches such as acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, or herbal supplements. It’s important to discuss these options with a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your treatment plan.

6. Support and self-care – Engaging in support groups or seeking counseling can provide emotional support and the opportunity to connect with others facing similar challenges. Self-care practices, such as pacing activities, setting realistic goals, and practicing self-compassion, can also be beneficial in managing fibromyalgia.

The treatment approach for fibromyalgia is highly individualized, and what works for one person may not work for another. It may involve a trial-and-error process to find the most effective combination of treatments for symptom management. Working closely with a healthcare professional who specializes in fibromyalgia can help develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and circumstances.


The symptoms of fibromyalgia may last for a long time or never go. Therefore, it is necessary to talk to your provider about how many treatments or medications you need to reduce the prolonged pain. Sometimes the real condition and the significant pain are too worse to handle. It may feel like forever but it’s not. Talk to your healthcare provider about the necessary concerns regarding the management of stress and other emotional symptoms for better recovery of your condition.