What are the physical effects of fibromyalgia?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The physical effects of fibromyalgia are different for everyone, but all folks with fibro have one thing in common: endless aches and pains. Your muscles might ache like you've just held your own in a bike race against Lance  Armstrong. You may feel like an invisible criminal is stabbing your joints. Or you might suffer with trigger-point pain and feelings of fatigue and achiness. Some people with fibromyalgia have searing pain in the back, neck, and chest, along with headaches and TMJ pain (in the jaw). Women with fibromyalgia often have PMS on steroids: painful periods with severe cramping or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some symptoms of fibromyalgia may come and go, while other physical effects are chronic and never stop until you start treatment.
Fibromyalgia syndrome is an arthritis-like condition that has the following physical symptoms:
  • severe muscle pain and stiffness
  • tender points all over the body
  • anxiety and depression
  • relentless fatigue
  • disturbed sleep (insomnia, light sleep, early morning awakenings)
  • headaches
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • painful periods
  • difficulty with memory and attention, known as fibro fog
  • restless legs syndrome (RLS)
Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine

Fibromyalgia can cause literally dozens of different symptoms. The most common are widespread pain, exhaustion, insomnia, and cognitive dysfunction. Other common symptoms include sinusitis, spastic colon, visual changes, dry eyes and mouth, carpal tunnel syndrome, pelvic pain syndromes, and a host of others.

Daniel R. Spogen, MD
Family Medicine

Fibromyalgia is an syndrome that is characterized by chronic pain with generalized tender points. It is characterized by sleep disturbance, fatigue, headache, morning stiffness and anxiety. Nearly 2 percent of the general population in the United States suffers from fibromyalgia, with females of middle age being at increased risk. The diagnosis is primarily based on the presence of widespread pain for a period of at least three months and the presence of 11 tender points among 18 specific anatomic sites.  These points are not in the joints.  Most commonly, the painful points are in the upper back and neck, although can occur in almost any other muscle group. The pain can take on any characteristic: electrical, chronic ache, sharp, deep or superficial.

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
There are a wide variety of symptoms that characterize fibromyalgia. It is diagnosed by having specific points on the body that are tender. Patients often experience muscle and joint pain, fatigue, headache, sleep problems and may complain of irritable bowel symptoms and depression.

Although patients experience a significant amount of pain there is no evidence of inflammation on blood tests in those with fibromyalgia. Although the condition tends to be chronic it does not cause joint or muscle injury as many other diseases can do.

Having a treatment plan that incorporates pain management as well as gentle exercise, education and support is very important. 


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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.