Learn About Fibromyalgia

What is the definition of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which a person has long-term pain that is spread throughout the body. The pain is most often linked to fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, headaches, depression, and anxiety.

People with fibromyalgia may also have tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues.

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What are the alternative names for Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyositis; FM; Fibrositis

What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?

The cause is not known. Researchers think that fibromyalgia is due to a problem with how the central nervous system processes pain. Possible causes or triggers of fibromyalgia include:

  • Physical or emotional trauma.
  • Abnormal pain response: Areas in the brain that control pain may react differently in people with fibromyalgia.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Infection, such as a virus, although none has been identified.

Fibromyalgia is more common in females as compared to males. Women ages 20 to 50 are most affected.

The following conditions may be seen with fibromyalgia or have similar symptoms:

  • Long-term (chronic) neck or back pain
  • Long-term (chronic) fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Lyme disease
  • Sleep disorders
What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Widespread pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia appears to belong in a range of chronic widespread pain, which may be present in 10% to 15% of the general population. Fibromyalgia falls on the far end of that pain severity and chronicity scale and occurs in 1% to 5% of the general population.

The central feature of fibromyalgia is chronic pain in multiple sites. These sites are the head, each arm, the chest, the abdomen, each leg, the upper back and spine, and the lower back and spine (including the buttocks).

The pain may be mild to severe.

  • It may feel like a deep ache, or a stabbing, burning pain.
  • It may feel like it is coming from the joints, although the joints are not affected.

People with fibromyalgia tend to wake up with body pain and stiffness. For some people, pain improves during the day and gets worse at night. Some people have pain all day long.

Pain may get worse with:

  • Physical activity
  • Cold or damp weather
  • Anxiety and stress

Most people with fibromyalgia have fatigue, depressed mood, and sleep problems. Many people say that they cannot get to sleep or stay asleep, and they feel tired when they wake up.

Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflex
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Reduced ability to exercise
  • Tension or migraine headaches
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What are the current treatments for Fibromyalgia?

The goals of treatment are to help relieve pain and other symptoms, and to help the person cope with the symptoms.

The first type of treatment may involve:

  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise and fitness program
  • Stress-relief methods, including light massage and relaxation techniques

If these treatments do not work, your provider may also prescribe an antidepressant or muscle relaxant. Sometimes, combinations of medicines are helpful.

  • The goal of these medicines is to improve your sleep and help you better tolerate pain.
  • Medicine should be used along with exercise and behavior therapy.
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta), pregabalin (Lyrica), and milnacipran (Savella) are medicines that are approved specifically for treating fibromyalgia.

Other medicines are also used to treat the condition, such as:

  • Anti-seizure drugs, such as gabapentin
  • Other antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
  • Muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine
  • Pain relievers, such as tramadol

If you have sleep apnea, a device called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be prescribed.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an important part of treatment. This therapy helps you learn how to:

  • Deal with negative thoughts
  • Keep a diary of pain and symptoms
  • Recognize what makes your symptoms worse
  • Seek out enjoyable activities
  • Set limits

Complementary and alternative treatments may also be helpful. These may include:

  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture

Support groups may also help.

Things you can do to help take care of yourself include:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Practice a good sleep routine to improve quality of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Start with low-level exercise.

There is no evidence that opioids are effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia, and studies have suggested possible adverse effects.

Referral to a clinic with interest and expertise in fibromyalgia is encouraged.

Who are the top Fibromyalgia Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

1500 E Medical Center Dr 
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Daniel Clauw is a Rheumatologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Clauw is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. He is also highly rated in 3 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Hysterectomy. He is licensed to treat patients in Michigan.

Highly rated in

University of Florida Health

Florida Clinical Practice Association Inc

1600 Sw Archer Rd 
Gainesville, FL 32610

Roland Staud is a Rheumatologist in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Staud has been practicing medicine for over 50 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. He is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Rhizomelic Pseudopolyarthritis, and Polymyalgia Rheumatica. He is licensed to treat patients in Florida. Dr. Staud is currently accepting new patients.

Learn about our expert tiers
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Highly rated in

Institute Of Rheumatology

Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center 
Tel Aviv, TA, IL 

Jacob Ablin is in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ablin is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Fibromyalgia. He is also highly rated in 3 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Acute Pain, and Cramp-Fasciculation Syndrome.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a long-term disorder. Sometimes, the symptoms improve. Other times, the pain may get worse and continue for months or years.

When should I contact a medical professional for Fibromyalgia?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of fibromyalgia.

How do I prevent Fibromyalgia?

There is no known prevention.

What are the latest Fibromyalgia Clinical Trials?
The Relationship of Cervical Sagittal Parameters With Pain and Disability in Cervical Myofascial Pain Syndrome
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Explosive Synchronization of Brain Network Activity in Chronic Pain
What are the Latest Advances for Fibromyalgia?
Depression and Long-Term Prescription Opioid Use and Opioid Use Disorder: Implications for Pain Management in Cancer.
Pharmacological management of fibromyalgia: a Bayesian network meta-analysis.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
Does aerobic exercise effect pain sensitisation in individuals with musculoskeletal pain? A systematic review.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : January 21, 2020
Published By : Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, MACR, ABIM Board Certified in Rheumatology, Seattle, WA. Internal review and update on 06/03/2021 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Arnold LM, Clauw DJ. Challenges of implementing fibromyalgia treatment guidelines in current clinical practice. Postgrad Med. 2017;129(7):709-714. PMID: 28562155 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28562155/.

Borg-Stein J, Brassil ME, Borgstrom HE. Fibromyalgia. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 102.

Clauw DJ. Fibromyalgia and related syndromes .In: Hochberg MC, Gravallese EM, Silman AJ, Smolen JS, Weinblatt ME, Weisman MH, eds. Rheumatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 91.

Gilron I, Chaparro LE, Tu D, et al. Combination of pregabalin with duloxetine for fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Pain. 2016;157(7):1532-1540. PMID: 26982602 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26982602/.

Goldenberg DL. Diagnosing fibromyalgia as a disease, an illness, a state, or a trait? Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2019;71(3):334-336. PMID: 30724034 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30724034/.

Lauche R, Cramer H, Häuser W, Dobos G, Langhorst J. A systematic overview of reviews for complementary and alternative therapies in the treatment of the fibromyalgia syndrome. Evid-Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015:610615. doi:10.1155/2015/610615. PMID: 26246841 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26246841/.

López-Solà M, Woo CW, Pujol J, et al. Towards a neurophysiological signature for fibromyalgia. Pain. 2017;158(1):34-47. PMID: 27583567 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27583567/.

Wu YL, Chang LY, Lee HC, Fang SC, Tsai PS. Sleep disturbances in fibromyalgia: a meta-analysis of case-control studies. J Psychosom Res. 2017;96:89-97. PMID: 28545798 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28545798/.