Fibromyalgia Pain Management

Animation: Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Pain Symptoms:

Fibromyalgia pain is a chronic pain condition that causes widespread pain in muscles, tendons and joints accompanied by feelings of fatigue and sleep problems. Fibromyalgia pain can even be associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Fibromyalgia can also create tender points — places on the body where even slight pressure is very painful. 

Fatigue is seen in up to 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients and can be related to abnormal sleep patterns. Patients with fibromyalgia do not get enough restorative sleep, also called rapid eye moving (REM) sleep, leading to chronic fatigue symptoms. The following symptoms can also be seen in fibromyalgia patients in different combinations:  

  • Poor concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Abdominal pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Bladder problems including frequent urination
  • Migraines and tension headaches
  • Paresthesia (numbness and tingling sensations in different parts of the body)

Fibromyalgia Pain Causes:

There is no known cause for fibromyalgia pain, but fibromyalgia symptoms can often develop after a physical or emotional trauma. Additionally, genetics and infections can trigger fibromyalgia pain. It is believed that a process called central sensitization is the reason behind the painful symptoms, causing those with fibromyalgia to have a lower threshold for pain. Central sensitization leads to increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals. Current research has found that there are elevated levels of a nerve chemical, called substance P, in patients with fibromyalgia. In addition, another chemical, serotonin, is lower in patients with fibromyalgia. With repeated nerve stimulation, fibromyalgia can lead to changes in the brain and processing of pain signals. These changes can cause disturbances of pain perception leading fibromyalgia patients to become over reactive to pain signals.

Fibromyalgia Risk Factors:

Women are more susceptible to getting fibromyalgia, as well as those with a family history of fibromyalgia or rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Testing:

To be diagnosed with fibromyalgia by a fibromyalgia specialist doctor, a person must have widespread pain lasting at least three months and at least 11 out of 18 total possible tender points. Blood tests also are done to rule out conditions with similar symptoms. Once these are excluded, then the diagnosis of fibromyalgia (a diagnosis of exclusion) can be made.

Fibromyalgia Pain Treatment Options:

There are a number of fibromyalgia pain treatment options a fibromyalgia specialist doctor may suggest that help with fibromyalgia pain management, which include:

At Advanced Pain Management, our fibromyalgia pain management clinics value the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. For those fibromyalgia pain treatments not offered by Advanced Pain Management clinic doctors, we are able to refer you to other fibromyalgia pain management clinics.


Last reviewed July 2013 by APM's Medical Executive Committee.