Fibromyalgia: An Overview of Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Fibromyalgia is a long-term (chronic) disorder which generates tenderness and pain all over the body. On top of this, sufferers are plagued with profound insomnia, tiredness, and more

So What Causes Fibromyalgia?

While it has to be said that, at the present time, the exact cause of fibromyalgia cannot be confirmed, Pain Doctors explain that:
“Sufferers have a heightened sensitivity to pain, so they feel pain when others do not. Brain imaging studies and other research has uncovered evidence of altered signalling in neural pathways that transmit and receive pain in sufferers. These changes may also contribute to the fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems that many people with the disorder experience” [1]

Did You Know?

Anyone can suffer from fibromyalgia, however, statistically speaking, women have it more than their counterparts. Of note, Pain Specialists treat patients of all ages, although generally speaking, fibromyalgia normally appears during middle age. Furthermore, the risk of being affected by it, shoots up as one gets older. And as Pain Consultants can testify, fibromyalgia can occur in people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Generally speaking, fibromyalgia runs in families, so to that end, genetics are thought to play a role. However, research on the specific genes involved, has not as yet, been forthcoming. Moreover, when it comes to risk factors, scientists think that non-genetic (environmental) factors also play a part. These non-genetic triggers can incorporate:
• Mental health issues (including depression and anxiety)
• Having a pre-existing disease such as:
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Lupus
• Ankylosing spondylitis
• Osteoarthritis
• Anxiety or depression
• Chronic back pain
• Irritable bowel syndrome [1, 2].

What Symptoms Should I Look For & Report to a Pain Doctor?

The key symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
• Long-standing, widespread pain at various different sites, or throughout the entire body. Pain (which feel like throbbing, burning, or aching) frequently experienced in the back, buttocks, abdomen, chest, head, legs and/or arms.
• Fatigue or being overwhelmed by tiredness
• Insomnia [1,2]

Other Symptoms to Report to Your Pain Doctor

• Stiffness in the joints and muscles
• Tenderness on touch
• Tingling and numbing in the arms and legs
• Issues with memory, concentration, and being able to think clearly (a condition which is often referred to as ‘fibro fog’)
• Heightened sensitivity to temperature, smells, noise and light
• Difficulties with digestion (including suffering from IBS, constipation and bloating) [1,2]

Getting an Accurate Fibromyalgia Diagnosis and Cutting-Edge Treatment

A Pain Specialist can only give a fibromyalgia diagnosis if a patient has been suffering from widespread pain all over their body, for a minimum of three months
In order to meet this criteria, they must experience pain in at least four of the following five areas:
• Left upper region, including their shoulder, arm or jaw
• Right upper region, including their shoulder, arm or jaw
• Left lower region, including their hip, buttock or leg
• Right lower region, including their hip, buttock or leg
• Axial region (which incorporates the back, neck, chest and abdomen) [1,2]

During your consultation, your Pain Doctor may conduct or (in the case of on-line consultations), arrange various blood tests. The purpose behind this, is to rule out other conditions which can generate similar symptoms. Such tests can include:
• Complete blood count
• Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
• Cyclic citrullinated peptide test
• Rheumatoid factor
• Thyroid function tests
• Anti-nuclear antibody
• Celiac serology
• Vitamin D [1, 2].

In addition to the aforementioned, should your Pain Consultant feel that you could be suffering from sleep apnoea, then they may suggest that you partake in a simple overnight sleep study [2].

Once an accurate Fibromyalgia diagnosis has been established, your Pain Specialist will then tailor a Holistic Personalised Treatment Plan involving multiple modalities. These will include the latest cutting-edge treatments and therapies.


[1]. National Institutes of Health (2021). “Fibromyaligia.”
[2]. Mayo Clinic (2021). “Fibromyaligia.”

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