Fibromyalgia Comorbidities

Fibromyalgia presents as a wide array of symptoms, which can make it hard to diagnose and manage. In addition, fibromyalgia often appears alongside other conditions, called comorbidities. Common fibromyalgia comorbidities include chronic fatigue syndrome, headaches, severe menstrual symptoms, digestive issues, sleep issues, depression, and anxiety. If you have fibromyalgia, it’s important to address any additional conditions that you may be battling at the same time. For more information, read the answers to these common questions about fibromyalgia comorbidities.

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Are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia the same illness?


Experts continue to debate whether chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are different manifestations of the same illness. Both conditions can render the patient weak and exhausted.

The prevailing theory is that these are two different illnesses that often appear together. Chronic fatigue syndrome usually has an inflammatory element to it, while fibromyalgia does not. Fibromyalgia comes with pain in specific areas of the body, while chronic fatigue syndrome does not. It's estimated that 50-70% of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia also have chronic fatigue syndrome.


Are my headaches related to fibromyalgia?


If you've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may be more likely to experience headaches. If you're having frequent headaches or migraines, talk to your doctor whether or not you've been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients tend to have more painful headaches than individuals without fibromyalgia. This may be because the neurotransmitters that play a role in fibromyalgia pain also cause other pain (like headaches) to be more severe.


Do women with fibromyalgia have more difficult menstrual symptoms?


In many cases, yes. Women who have fibromyalgia are also more likely to suffer longer stretches of PMS and more painful periods. Female fibromyalgia patients often report severe cramps, swollen hands and feet, headaches and backaches, bloating, and major mood swings in connection with their periods.


Are fibromyalgia sufferers more likely to have digestive issues?


Yes. Science is just beginning to understand how closely the brain and the gut are linked. The brains of fibromyalgia sufferers have a number of chemical abnormalities. Because the digestive system is so closely linked to the brain, it makes sense that digestive issues would be present in fibromyalgia patients. Commonly reported issues include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea, which closely mirror the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.


Are my sleep issues connected to my fibromyalgia?


It's very possible. The pain of fibromyalgia can make it difficult to get to sleep in the first place. In addition, many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from restless leg syndrome and/or periodic limb movement disorder, both of which prevent your body from lying still enough to get good rest. Many fibromyalgia patients also suffer from sleep apnea, which causes breathing to stop during sleep, waking the patient up.


Am I more likely to be depressed if I have fibromyalgia?


Yes. The stress of any chronic illness increases the likelihood of depression. In addition, fibromyalgia sufferers already have the same neurochemical issues that are present in depression, increasing the likelihood of depressed mood. Experts agree that it's important to treat these two illnesses separately, even though they may appear together.

Other psychological issues are likely to be present with fibromyalgia, too. Many fibromyalgia patients experience panic attacks, anxiety, and chronic worrying.


Why is this important?


Fibromyalgia is difficult enough on its own. If you're also experiencing several fibromyalgia comorbidities, it's important to talk to your doctor. Your fibromyalgia will be easier to handle if you're also addressing any additional conditions that may be connected.

Fibromyalgia Topical Treatments

Is your current fibromyalgia treatment plan addressing all of your pain? For most patients, the answer is no. If you're taking oral medications...

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