Signs & Symptoms   |    Causes   |    Treatment   |    Questions to Ask   |    Self-Care/Prevention

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic, arthritis-like illness. It affects the muscles, not the joints.

Signs & Symptoms


•  Chronic widespread pain on both sides of the body. This lasts for at least 3 months. It is not due to any other problem. Muscle pain can be severe.

•  Pain in 11 or more of 22 “tender points.” (These are shown at right.)

•  Fatigue. Disturbed sleep. Anxiety. Depression.

These symptoms are also linked to fibromyalgia:

•  Memory lapses. Problems concentrating. Feeling confused.

•  Chronic headaches. Jaw pain. A tingling feeling in the limbs.

•  Irritable bowel. Swelling and pain in the abdomen. Gas. Constipation. Diarrhea.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)


The exact cause is not known. Factors thought to play a role include:

•  An illness caused by an infection. Emotional or physical trauma.

•  Hormones. Women are affected more often than men.

•  Brain chemicals and muscles don’t function like they should.


•  Exercise therapy.

•  Medication to treat symptoms.

•  Massage therapy.

Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

•  Follow the treatment plan advised by your doctor.

•  Use biofeedback.

•  Use relaxation techniques. Meditate.

•  Take warm baths.

•  Use a heating pad.

•  Massage sore muscles.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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