How is fibromyalgia triggered?

A number of things are believed to trigger fibromyalgia symptoms, but doctors don't know exactly how. Experts think there is a possible link between the body’s immune system, endocrine system and neurological system.
Some things that could trigger fibromyalgia are:
  • certain infections
  • trauma, including physical assault
  • sexual abuse
  • obesity
  • sleep disorders
  • depression
  • pain from another cause
Pain from childhood hospital procedures may also be a fibromyalgia trigger. Researchers studied kids who had many tests done during a previous stay a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They found that the children later became hypersensitive to pain. The body’s natural ability to block pain did not develop the same way it did in other people. As a result, they developed fibromyalgia. The same thing that would not cause another person to feel much pain caused these kids a lot of physical pain in early childhood.
Scientists think your genes may also play a role in fibromyalgia, but studies are still in the early phase. It's difficult to separate out environmental triggers and genes, because a lot of times when people from the same family have fibromyalgia, they've been exposed to the same things. For example, if somebody grows up in a poor neighborhood where there's more violence and more stress, you may see more fibromyalgia in the family. But that doesn't necessarily mean that everybody in the family has the gene for fibromyalgia. 
Excessive stress can trigger or exacerbate fibromyalgia fatigue. Some research suggests that the onset of fibromyalgia could be triggered by a severely stressful event, such as a divorce, a job loss or the death of a loved one.

Dr. Jennifer N. Caudle, DO
Family Practitioner

Fibromyalgia sometimes seems to strike out of nowhere. In this video, family medicine specialist Dr. Jennifer Caudle talks about what researchers believe may trigger this painful disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.