What is fibro fog?

The term fibro fog refers to patients who have fibromyalgia that exhibit central cognitive issues surrounding memory, concentration or thinking clearly.

Fibromyalgia is generally however a complex of widespread pain areas located over points of the body and fatigue.

Fibro fog is a variable component of this chronic pain syndrome
Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine

Brain fog is a very common part of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It reflects as difficulty with word finding or substitution, short-term memory, or even episodic disorientation. Fortunately, it also resolves with treatment with the overall assigned protocol.

Worried that you might have Alzheimer's? This is not at all the same as brain fog. In brain fog people are constantly forgetting where they left the keys. In Alzheimer's they forget how to use the keys!

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Many people with fibromyalgia have a hard time concentrating on their work or home activities. Some people have severe memory problems, especially short-term memory. Others experience general confusion and forgetfulness. These feelings have been called "fibro fog." Fibro fog interferes with work and home life. Some people with fibromyalgia are unable to keep full-time jobs because of fibro fog. It is hard to detect, even by lab test, and it adds to the frustration of living with fibromyalgia.

People with fibromyalgia often tell of great difficulty keeping their attention concentrated on their work or other activities.  Some complain of memory problems, especially for events that happened recently, along with general confusion and forgetfulness at times.  The hazy mental feeling has been called "fibro-fog," and it can interfere with daily activities and work. For some with fibromyalgia, fibro-fog is an overwhelming problem, which makes them unable to work. The periods of lowered concentration and memory can result in loss of information, confusion and lower function.

Researchers have found that a majority of people with fibromyalgia experience the problems of fibro-fog with memory and mental clarity problems. Many experience problems with dissociation, which results in a loss of mental connection from complete awareness of everyday events. Some experts believe that dissociation might help explain some of the problems of fibro-fog, as mild dissociation can be the result of poor sleep or medications. While these problems are difficult to measure and may not show up as an abnormality on tests given to those with fibromyalgia , they are still very real.  If the tests are negative, it does add to the frustration of people with fibromyalgia.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Fibro fog is a mysterious problem common to people with fibromyalgia. You know when you walk downstairs to get something but by the time you're there, you have no clue what you wanted? That's what fibro fog is like, but all the time. Your keys? You find them in the cheese drawer. That project due by 3 p.m.? It's 4:30 and you're still staring at your computer screen in a daze.

Fibro fog makes you super spaced out. You may have a poor memory, or feel cognitively challenged at work. You may forget important appointments or to pick your kids up from school. Some believe that fibro fog is linked to the pain of fibromyalgia or to the poor sleep associated with this syndrome. Still, the medical jury is out on the actual cause of the cognitive fogginess.
Dawn Marcus
Problems with concentration, attention, memory, and being able to plan and complete tasks are commonly seen in people with fibromyalgia. These symptoms are also referred to as fibro fog, a term that describes a feeling of being stuck in a cloud that limits a person's ability to perform mental tasks.

Doctors have started investigating what's really happening when people say they have fibro fog. Physicians at Rush Medical College who catalogued cognitive difficulty in people with fibromyalgia found that:
  • 70% reported a drop in memory.
  • 56% reported feeling mental confusion.
  • 40% noticed problems with speech.
  • 50% experienced both a drop in memory and confusion.
  • One in three had problems with memory, confusion, and speech.
The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

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The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit: Manage Your Symptoms and Take Control of Your Life

The Woman's Fibromyalgia Toolkit tells readers what they need to know to take control of fibromyalgia symptoms. It includes step-by-step instructions for using effective non-drug treatments,...
There is a cognitive problem, often referred to as "fibro fog," that many people with fibromyalgia experience. It's not entirely clear whether fatigue or a lack of sleep is to blame. Perhaps the distraction of chronic fibromyalgia pain simply makes it hard to focus and remember things.

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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.