Fibromyalgia Symptoms

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects the soft tissues and muscles all over the body. This condition causes pain and tenderness in the affected areas, such as the neck, arms and legs, shoulders, chest, back, and hips.

Fibromyalgia also causes difficulty in sleeping and fatigue. The pain is sometimes worse in the morning, but it may also last all day.

Simply put, people who have fibromyalgia have an increased sensitivity to pain, but scientists still cannot decipher what causes the condition, and hence, there is no cure. However, there are some treatment options available that help relieve and manage the symptoms.

There are some triggering factors that worsen the pain caused by fibromyalgia; anxiety, stress, cold weather, etc. Symptom treatment and management involve certain movement therapies and medications which help improve the quality of life of a patient. [1] [2]

Fibromyalgia causes affected individuals to be more sensitive to pain as compared to normal people. This condition is called abnormal pain perception processing and affects nearly 2% of the adult population in the USA. [3] The diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on the symptoms, physical examination, and widespread pain in the body. There are no specific tests that can accurately diagnose fibromyalgia, which is why doctors monitor the symptoms and rule out other causes to diagnose this disorder. [4]

Types of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia doesn’t have any subtypes or divisions, but the pain resulting from the disorder can range from;

  • Pain that spreads throughout the body.
  • Chronic pain that occurs at multiple sites.
  • Pain that is felt in the head, chest, arms, legs, abdomen, buttocks, and back.
  • An aching or burning sensation. [2]

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but researchers believe that it is associated with stress and sleep problems. Other risk factors include endocrine, immune, and biochemical problems.

How Is Fibromyalgia Diagnosed?

A doctor inquires about the health history along with the physical examination of a patient. The first time the symptoms made an appearance is inquired.

  1. Medical History: The doctor inquires about the severity and duration of the pain and where it is located. Severe fatigue and sometimes cognitive problems are also common in patients who have fibromyalgia. A patient may be suffering from other diseases that can increase the chances that they may have fibromyalgia. All these health conditions are taken into consideration while making a diagnosis.
  2. Physical Examination: Although no abnormalities are visible in imaging tests or routine clinical examinations that are directly related to fibromyalgia. But doctors order certain tests to rule out other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Currently, there are no imaging or laboratory tests that can diagnose fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia may resemble other health conditions due to its similar and nonspecific symptoms, such as;

  • Spondyloarthritis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Inflammatory myopathy
  • Hypothyroidism

The main symptoms of fibromyalgia, pain and fatigue, are common in other health conditions. But the doctor will use the laboratory findings, physical examination, and health history to differentiate fibromyalgia from other conditions. [5]

Fibromyalgia Staging

Fibromyalgia is a condition that doesn’t produce its symptoms in a specific order. The treatment procedure for fibromyalgia depends on the pain severity. In a study based on the correlation between the combined index of fibromyalgia severity and a number of drugs, [6] the fibromyalgia patients were classified according to disease severity; mild, moderate, and severe fibromyalgia.

Doctors treat fibromyalgia based on how the patient is feeling. This condition affects different people in different ways, and doctors may order the following steps to treat it;

  1. Exercise and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and relax them.
  2. Psychological treatment to help patients manage symptoms and avoid a fibromyalgia flare-up.
  3. Taking medications to improve the quality of life.

Is Fibromyalgia Hereditary?

Fibromyalgia can run in families. There are certain genes that can increase the chances of having fibromyalgia. However, this disorder also commonly develops in people having no family history of fibromyalgia. [2]

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia results in sensory processing alterations in CNS, which means that affected individuals are more perceptive to a given pain stimulus as compared to healthy individuals. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than men and causes generalized musculoskeletal pain.

The main symptoms of this condition are;

  • Fatigue
  • Chronic and widespread pain at multiple sites or throughout the body
  • Jaw pain
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Joints and muscle stiffness
  • Numbness in the limbs
  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches
  • Fibro fog
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity to noise, temperature, light, and odors. [2]

What Are the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia pain can start in any body part, such as the shoulders or neck, and the pain can range from mild to severe. The symptoms of fibromyalgia may resemble those of arthritis, and mild cases are treated with stress reduction and other lifestyle changes.

The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include;

  1. Musculoskeletal pain: The widespread chronic pain is the chief symptom of fibromyalgia. The pain is bilateral and involves all parts of the body. The pain associated with fibromyalgia may initially be localized. Patients mostly suffer from muscle pain but also complain of joint pain.
  2. Cognitive impairment: Cognitive dysfunction is also associated with other symptoms in fibromyalgia patients, affecting memory, executive function, and attention. The common name used here is “fibro fog,” which refers to decreased alertness, forgetfulness, and the feeling that you’re in a haze.
  3. Fatigue: Fatigue resulting from fibromyalgia is most prominent after waking up and in mid-afternoon. Pain can accompany stiffness in the body, and patients also complain of sleep disturbances and not feeling refreshed even after having 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Light activities and even inactivity for prolonged periods can also aggravate fatigue and other symptoms.
  4. Other symptoms: There are other symptoms in addition to pain and stiffness in the body, and these include anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, and paresthesia. Gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and GERD are also common in fibromyalgia patients.

What Are Some Signs of Fibromyalgia?

Many researchers agree that fibromyalgia results from the sensitization of CNS, and this concept justifies the varying characteristics associated with this disorder. [10]

Fibromyalgia has lesser prominent clinical manifestations, and the normal laboratory tests, multiple symptoms, and unsatisfactory results of treatment can increase mood disorders in affected individuals, such as depression and anxiety.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Women vs Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Men

Fibromyalgia is more common in women as compared to men.1 Anyone, whether it is an adult or child, can get fibromyalgia. But the chances of developing fibromyalgia increase as one gets older. The disorder usually starts in middle-aged individuals and affects people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Fibromyalgia occurs more commonly in women due to the following reasons:

  • Higher anxiety levels
  • Increased depressions
  • Altered CNS input
  • Hormonal effects due to the menstrual cycle
  • Altered behavior regarding pain. [5]

Fibromyalgia symptoms in females include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Lack of good sleep
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Women who had endometriosis were more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia. [7]

Common fibromyalgia symptoms in males are:

  • A constant dull ache that affects both sides of the body
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Memory issues

Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia

Researchers believe that sleep problems, stress, and other rheumatic diseases increase the chances that an individual can have fibromyalgia. These conditions and diseases include;

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mood disorders
  • Depression
  • Chronic back pain
  • Anxiety
  • IBS. [2]

The risk factors for fibromyalgia include:

  • Age: Older people have more chances of having fibromyalgia.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to have fibromyalgia.
  • Stressful events: Like PTSD.
  • Family history: Fibromyalgia may run in families.
  • Repetitive injuries: Such as constant stress on a particular joint. [3]

Fibromyalgia Prevention

Fibromyalgia is not preventable, but one must ensure that they are physically active, which can reduce the chances of developing any chronic diseases.

Certain physical activity programs can also allow the affected individuals to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Other lifestyle modifications can improve the management of fibromyalgia symptoms, such as;

  • Reducing stress
  • Following a diet and exercise that improves health
  • Getting enough sleep

Fibromyalgia Prognosis and Treatment

Doctors inquire about the symptoms and severity of pain a patient is suffering from and then suggest an appropriate treatment procedure. Many people who have fibromyalgia can manage their symptoms for the rest of their lives and avoid as many flare-ups as possible.

The Fibromyalgia Survival Rate

The mortality rates in patients don’t increase after diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but death rates from injuries, accidents, and suicide are higher among the patients. [9]

Fibromyalgia Treatment Options

Doctors focus the treatment plan according to the symptoms and pain severity. The treatment of fibromyalgia includes the following:

1. Cognitive behavioral therapies: These therapies help patients manage their pain and other symptoms but changing the way they think about the pain. This therapy can be done individually or in groups.

2. Medications: Some medicines can relieve the pain and improve the sleep quality of patients. These include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Analgesics
  • Anti-seizure medications

3. Complimentary therapies: Acupuncture, hypnosis, and massage are also sought after by patients to treat and manage fibromyalgia. [8]



There is no cure for fibromyalgia, and treatment can sometimes be unsatisfactory. But it is essential to maintain a positive approach and stick to professional treatment by an interprofessional team, which includes a physician, pain specialist, mental health professionals, physical therapists, and sleep specialists.