Fibromyalgia – symptoms, causes and risk factors

Fibromyalgia symptoms and causes

Fibromyalgia is also known as FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome). This is a long – term condition which is causing pain all over the body. This disorder is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain that is accompanied by mood issues, memory and sleep issues and fatigue. There are some doctors who believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensation by affecting the way that your brain processes pain signals. [1] Symptoms in some cases begin after significant psychological stress, infection, surgery or physical trauma. In other cases, symptoms of fibromyalgia gradually accumulate over time without triggering event. Women are having increased chances of developing fibromyalgia compared to men [2]. Many people who have fibromyalgia also have depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, TMJ disorders (temporomandibular joint disorders) and tension headaches. There is no cure for fibromyalgia but there are many different medications which can help to control symptoms. Stress – reduction measures, relaxation and exercise can help in the treatment of fibromyalgia. [3]

Symptoms of fibromyalgia

This condition has many symptoms that vary from person to person. The widespread pain is the main symptom of fibomyalgia. [1]There are some periods when your symptoms get worse or better, depending on factors such as

  • How physically active you are
  • Changes in the weather
  • Your stress levels

Here are the main symptoms of fibromyalgia:

  • Widespread pain: This is the main symptom of fibromyalgia. This can be felt throughout your body, but it could be worse in particular areas such as neck or back. The pain is usually continuous but at different times it could be better or more severe. This pain could feel like: a sharp, stabbing pain; a burning sensation and an ache. [1,4]
  • Fatigue: Fibromyalgia can cause extreme tiredness (fatigue). This can range from a mild, tired feeling to the exhaustion which is often experienced during flu – like illness. Severe fatigue can come on suddenly and it can drain you of all your energy. If this happens, then you can feel too tired to do anything at all. [4]
  • Cognitive problems (“fibro-fog”): Cognitive problems are problems which are related mental processes such as learning and thinking. [4] If you have fibromyalgia, then you can have:
  • Slowed or confused speech
  • Problems with attention and concentration
  • Trouble remembering and learning new things
  • Headaches: If fibromyalgia has caused you to experience stiffness and pain in your shoulders and neck, then you can have frequent headaches. They can vary from mild headaches to severe migraines and also they can involve other symptoms such as nausea (feeling sick).

Fibromyalgia symptoms and causes

Fibromyalgia causes

Doctors do not know the cause for fibromyalgia but in the most cases involves a variety of factors that are working together such as

  • Physical or emotional trauma: It is known fact that there are some cases when fibromyalgia can be caused by a physical trauma such as a car accident. Also the psychological stress can trigger fibromyalgia. [3]
  • Genetics: This condition tends to run in families so there can be certain genetic mutations which can make you more susceptible to develop fibromyalgia. [5]
  • Infections: There are some illnesses which can aggravate or trigger fibromyalgia. [6]

There are some scientists which say that the repeated nerve stimulation is causing the brain of people who suffer from fibromyalgia to change. This change is involving increase in levels of some chemicals in the brain which signal pain (neurotransmitters). Also the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and this can become more sensitive which means that they can overreact to pain signals.

Risk factors: Here are some risk factors for fibromyalgia:

  • Family history: If your relative has a fibromyalgia, then you have increased to chances to develop it. [5]
  • Your sex: This condition is diagnosed more often in women compared to men. [1]
  • Other disorders: If you have lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, then you have increased chances of developing fibromyalgia. [6]

Complications: There are some symptoms of fibromyalgia such as lack of sleep and pain which can interfere with your ability to function on the job or at home. The frustration of dealing with an often – misunderstood condition can result in health – related anxiety and depression [7].


[1] Clauw DJ, Arnold LM, McCarberg BH. The science of fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86(9):907–11.

[2] Magyari N, Szakacs V, Bartha C, et al. Gender may have an influence on the relationship between Functional Movement Screen scores and gait parameters in elite junior athletes – A pilot study. Physiology International. 2017;104(3):258-69.

[3] Galvez-Sanchez CM, Duschek S, del Paso GAR. Psychological impact of fibromyalgia: current perspectives. Psychology Research and Behavior Management. 2019;12:117–27.

[4] Clauw DJ, Arnold LM, McCarberg BH. The science of fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86(9):907–11.

[5] Collado A, Gomez E, Coscolla R, et al. Work, family and social environment in patients with Fibromyalgia in Spain: an epidemiological study: EPIFFAC study. BMC Health Services Research. 2014.

[6] Goldenberg DL. Fibromyalgia syndrome a decade later: What have we learned? Archives of Internal Medicine. 1999;159(8):777-85

[7] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Fibromyalgia. Retrieved from


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