Physical Effects of Fibromyalgia

What effect does fibromyalgia have on my immune system?

A Answers (3)

  • Scientists are studying whether fibromyalgia has any effect on the immune system. This much is known: The symptoms of fibromyalgia can mimic those of common autoimmune disorders. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body's immune system, which normally defends against germs and other invaders, mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and others can cause symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems. These are also common symptoms of fibromyalgia. If you are experiencing these and other symptoms, particularly persistent pain, see your doctor. 
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • ACeleste Cooper, Rheumatology, answered

    There are several studies that suggest there is a connection between fibromyalgia and the immune system. This is because the immune system is also regulated by the command systems in the brain that seem to be out of kilter in FM.

    The effect depends on what part of the immune system is not working as it should. Following are some studies that might help you understand why there is no one certain answer to the question. You can search them at

    Carvalho LS, Correa H, Silva GC, Campos FS, Baião FR, Ribeiro LS, Faria AM, d'Avila Reis D.May genetic factors in fibromyalgia help to identify patients with differentially altered frequencies of immune cells? Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Dec;154(3):346-52.

    Coaccioli S, Varrassi G. Chronic degenerative pain: an update on abdominal pain in comparison to rheumatic diseases. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Aug;45 Suppl 2:S94-7.

    Irwin M, McClintick J, Costlow C, Fortner M, White J, Gillin JC.  Partial night sleep deprivation reduces natural killer and cellular immune responses in humans. FASEB J. 1996 Apr;10(5):643-53.

    Lekander M, Fredrikson M, Wik G.Neuroimmune relations in patients with fibromyalgia: a positron emission tomography study. Neurosci Lett. 2000 Mar 24;282(3):193-6.

    Şimşek I. Irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gastrointestinal disorders. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Aug;45 Suppl 2:S86-8.

    All blogs, posts and answers are based on the work in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Celeste Cooper, RN, and Jeff Miller, PhD. 2010, Vermont: Healing Arts press and are not meant to replace medical advice.


  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Fibromyalgia's relationship with the immune system remains a bit of a mystery. The immune system is your body's defense system. It springs into action when germs enter the body, rallying chemical defenders to kill bacteria, viruses, and other threats. However, sometimes the immune system develops a glitch and attacks healthy tissue. That's the problem in lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.

    Here's where things can get a little confusing. If you have fibromyalgia, you may be referred to a rheumatologist. These doctors treat autoimmune disorders. However, the key feature of these diseases, inflammation, doesn't occur in fibromyalgia. And some common treatments used to reduce inflammation haven't proven effective for fibromyalgia in studies.

    But just to add a twist, studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia often do have high levels of immune cells called cytokines -- which are needed to produce inflammation. This much is clear: The link between fibromyalgia and the immune system needs further study.
    Helpful? 3 people found this helpful.
Did You See?  Close
Can fibromyalgia damage my tissues or organs?