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Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 15.02.2023 | 2 min read

Fibromyalgia is a long-standing condition that causes pain all over the body. It is usually a lifelong condition, although there are treatments that help to relieve pain and make living with the symptoms much easier.

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome (FMS) that can cause a collection of symptoms. Alongside pain, these include tiredness, headaches, bowel symptoms (bloating, constipation, diarrhea), difficulty concentrating and remembering, sleep disturbance, muscle and joint stiffness, and increased sensitivity to pain.

Symptoms may wax and wane, so treatment aims to keep most symptoms at bay and reduce the severity of symptoms if you get a flare-up.

Fibromyalgia can go hand-in-hand with other conditions, including depression and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).

Who gets fibromyalgia?

It can be difficult to diagnose as many of the symptoms are seen in a number of conditions or may be mild and attributed to expected aches and pains in life.

The cause of fibromyalgia is not clearly understood. It is more common in women and can occur at any age. In some, it may relate to significant stressful events such as physical injuries or the death of a loved one, but there is evidence genetics also play a part.

Studies show people with fibromyalgia have changes to their pain messaging system between the brain, spinal cord, and nerves from the spine to the limbs, trunk, and head.

It might be worth keeping a diary so you can identify triggers that worsen symptoms and avoid them where possible or do more of what can help. This includes treating the body and mind – exercising improves mobility, reduces pain, and releases endorphins to make you feel better mentally. Investing time in rest and relaxation can also help.

Some people report certain foods and stress as triggers, while others find it hard to pinpoint a pattern.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

Pain and stiffness associated with inflammation around muscles, ligaments, soft tissues, and joints can be alleviated to some extent by over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

A warm bath or hot compresses can also be soothing in areas of pain or inflammation.

For more severe pain, your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives a prescription.

Am I fit for work?

You may be fit for work depending on your occupation and the severity of your symptoms.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have bothersome symptoms of pain, tiredness, difficulty sleeping, or bowel symptoms, you should discuss this with your doctor in a routine appointment.

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you if you are comfortable. Depending on the possible diagnosis, blood tests, urine tests, or imaging (ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan) could be carried out, or you may be referred to a specialist department. The doctor may also prescribe some medication to help with your symptoms.

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