Is pain from fibromyalgia different than normal pain?
Rosendo I. Collazo, DO
Internal Medicine

Fibromyalgia is condition characterized by widespread chronic pain and fatigue with no known cause. The pain is normally not caused by injury or a single chronic condition. Because symptoms can resemble those of other conditions, but fibro is not like other more common problems causing chronic pain.

Fibro is not like any other condition because the pain can vary in both the location on the body where it is concentrated and the frequency. Many feel a heightened and painful response to applied pressure.

The pain is often accompanied by extreme fatigue, sleep disturbance and joint stiffness.
Matthew F. McCarty, MD

Fibromyalgia pain can often be perceived as worse than normal pain because of its characteristics and related consequences. Fibromyalgia is described as a long-term body wide pain with associated tenderness in joints, tendons, muscles and other soft tissues. Normal pain such as that after a back or neck strain or ankle sprain is often self-limited after the body begins its normal healing phase. In Fibromyalgia the body may have an abnormal response to painful stimuli. Sleep disturbances, physical or emotional trauma have also been implicated in causing fibromyalgia. Often the pain from fibromyalgia takes on a burning quality and physical exam will reveal at least 18 tender knots where muscles are in constant spasm. As the pain drags on sleep can be further compromised and depression and anxiety can develop or worsen which can require separate treatment. A thorough investigation and treatment of underlying sources of pain such as osteoarthritis of the spine, degenerative disc disease, rheumatoid arthritis etc. can hopefully remove a source of pain if the fibromyalgia is caused from the body’s abnormal response to underlying pain.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Fibromyalgia is debilitating and relentless. It's not like the pain you get from a headache or a sprained ankle. With fibro, you might feel like there's a four-alarm fire raging in your muscles or sulphuric acid in your joints. The pain is intense and widespread. Getting out of bed can be more challenging than sprinting along the Great Wall of China.

Along with the muscle pain, fibromyalgia may happen with another pain-related illness such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Unlike the acute pain of a pulled muscle or backache, fibromyalgia pain is chronic or long-term and needs an ongoing treatment plan to manage the pain and other symptoms.

We all get tired.  And who doesn't feel sore, achy and stiff, especially after a weekend of sports activities or heavy gardening?  For those with fibromyalgia, these debilitating symptoms of pain and fatigue are severe and constant, lasting for months and years and causing poor quality of life for its millions of victims--damaging jobs, families and personal lives.

Coined in l976, the term “fibromyalgia” describes the basic symptoms of constant muscle pain, tenderness, fatigue and tender points.  Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain--in the back, neck, arms and legs--with many tender or trigger points that are very painful when touched.   

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
While acute pain lasts for a few hours or days, fibromyalgia pain is chronic, or long-term, and lasts for months to years. In fact, widespread body pain and deep muscle pain are the main symptoms of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia describe the pain as stabbing, shooting, throbbing, and aching. Some people with fibromyalgia have tingling and numbness throughout the body, along with the deep muscle pain. Others with fibromyalgia may have more pain in the morning. Pain may also worsen with weather changes, poor sleep, too much exercise, not enough exercise, and chronic emotional stress.
Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine

It can be because the pain tends to be widespread and persistent. Think about a toothache that is felt all over the body and lasts for many years. It can be severe.

The good news, it is also very treatable and I can count on my fingers how many of the thousands of fibromyalgia patient's I have treated have not been able to get good pain relief. It is not acceptable for you to be left in pain!

Piedmont Heart Institute
Fibromyalgia patients are thought to have a resetting of the volume control of their central nervous system and thus feel an exaggerated pain. They have a lower pain threshold. The pain is generally widespread and is characterized as an oversenstitization of the nervous system as it is stimulated.

However, pain thresholds are variable from person to person.

Continue Learning about Fibromyalgia Symptoms

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.