Scroll To Top

Fibromyalgia: Signs, Causes and Treatment

Posted by Ann V. On 2016 Nov 16th

Fibromyalgia: Signs, Causes and Treatment

Fibromyalgia is not only painful, but is often misdiagnosed due to subjective symptoms which lead to several complications. Therefore, it is essential to educate yourself on fibromyalgia with these essential things.

Fibromyalgia is a type of musculoskeletal pain occurring in the muscles, bones and tender areas. Simply put, it is a widespread pain in muscles, bones and joints. The pain is coupled with other signs like fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. According to CDC, there are 4 million US adults suffering from fibromyalgia, accounting 2% of the adult population.

Occurring as either long-term or chronic disorder, exact causes of fibromyalgia are still unknown. The pain is highly personal, meaning that your pain experience and spots aren’t necessarily the same as another person’s. This is why it is likely to be confused with other diseases.

Sometime, a person can experience the signs after a physical trauma, surgery, infection and eminent psychological stress. Women are more prone to fibromyalgia than men. Many people who have fibromyalgia also experience headaches, TMJ disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and anxiety.

Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, the symptoms can be managed with a variety of medication. Besides, exercise, relaxation and stress reduction measures are also helpful.

What are the Signs of Fibromyalgia?

The pain is also accompanied with…

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleeping for long periods of time without feeling rested
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to focus or difficulty paying attention
  • Pain or dull aching in the lower abdomen

Other Signs:

  • Feeling numbness or tingling in hands and feet.
  • Feeling pain in the face or jaw.
  • Experiencing digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, constipation, boating and irritable bowel syndrome.

How Fibromyalgia is Diagnosed?

Given that pain experience and spots may vary from person to person, doctors often include tender points (trigger points) on the body when it comes to diagnosing fibromyalgia. Here tender points mean the body parts where you experience pain even with light pressure. These trigger or tender points are…

  • Back of the Neck
  • Elbows
  • Front of the Neck
  • Hips
  • Lower Back
  • Knees
  • Upper Back
  • Shoulders
  • Chest

The pain caused by these trigger points can also affect other areas of the body. If you experience this pain for at least 3 months, a doctor will consider this as a case of fibromyalgia.

However, these points are just a one way for doctors to figure out the possibilities. Doctors take a note of other consistent signs—and probably some medical tests—to help them understand the causes.

What are the Causes of Fibromyalgia?

Although medical researchers and doctors haven’t discovered the exact causes of fibromyalgia yet, they are close to understand some possible factors like…

  • Infections
  • Genetics
  • Trauma
  • Stress

However, it is still challenging for health experts to understand the factors causing chronic widespread pain associated with fibromyalgia. Many researchers believe that it may be that brain affects the pain threshold, meaning that what once wasn’t painful becomes painful over time.

Some theories, on the other hand, suggest that the pain aggravates because of the sensitive nerves and receptors.

Risk Factors and Complications:

  • Women are more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men
  • If someone has in your family has this condition
  • If you have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or osteoarthritis

The pain and other signs like lack of sleep affect your ability to do your routine activities. In some cases, it leads to depression and health-related anxiety. Even worse, death rates from suicide and injuries are higher among the patients.

How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are managed with the help of medication and self-management strategies. It is often treated by other types of healthcare professionals, known as rheumatologists. Generally, doctors prescribe a combination of treatment for fibromyalgia which include:

  • Medications (Prescriptions Drugs and OTC) like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, tramadol and antidepressants
  • Aerobic Exercises and Muscle Strengthening Exercise
  • Stress Management Techniques
  • Good Sleep Habits
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Alternative Treatment Options for Fibromyalgia:


Acupuncture has been proved to be successful for some patients, though there is no medical evidence on that.

Tender Point Injections:

A physician may inject tender points that are painful. However, the injection only provides temporary relief. Then, it is not feasible to inject all tender points in the body.

Spray and Stretch Technique:

Topical anesthetic is used to numb the area before stretching the painful and contracted muscle. Apart from a physical therapist, patients can be trained to perform this technique. Some physicians prefer ice over topical anesthetic to numb the body part as latter may be flammable.

Therapeutic Massage:

Therapeutic massage aims to provide relaxation to the patients. In addition to that, it loosens tight muscles and reduces trigger points.

Numbing Cream or Topical Anesthetic:

Numbing cream is a topical anesthetic which dulls the pain receptors. This way, you don’t feel pain or sensation after the application of the cream. Simply put, it desensitizes your skin. The numbing effect lasts for 1-2 hours depending on the strength of the cream. It is looked as an instant pain remedy than analgesics gels. Numbing cream is used like any other skin cream. General steps to use a numbing cream for fibromyalgia are…

  • Wash the skin with soap and water
  • Pat it dry with towel
  • Apply the cream liberally to the affected area
  • Cover it with a plastic cling

(Precaution: Don’t use numbing cream over broken skin like wounds. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or have health condition.)


Proper nutrition is also useful to deal with some signs of fibromyalgia like fatigue. Some effective dietary strategies are…

  • Take fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Consume more plants than meat.
  • Minimize your intake of sugar.