• Lucy Adie, Osteopath

OsteoBlog - Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (FM): What is it?

It is a condition which literally means pain from muscles and fibrous tissues such as ligaments and tendons, widespread in the body.

It is a condition which does not affect the joints and therefore is not classified as arthritis.

Signs and symptoms:

Widespread pain all over the body.

Increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, muscular stiffness, insomnia, mental fogging, headaches, irritable bowel symptoms, digestive issues.

Pins and needles in hands and feet

Increased night time urination.

Jaw pain ( temporomandibular joint disorder) and restless leg syndrome tend to be associated with FM

Who is at risk:

7:1 ratio of women to men, 30-50 years of age.

Children and elderly people may suffer as well, though less commonly.

Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose, so the incidence may be a lot higher than we think, due to under reporting.

Potential causes:

Not really known but could be a brain chemical imbalance, causing problems with processing pain messages and resulting in amplification of pain levels (substance P and neurotransmitter involvement) – possibly genetic, can have traumatic/emotional triggers.

Since the pain has not come from a particular injury, it is difficult to control as there is no specific healing process. It is the brain getting confused, but this means the pain is no less real.

Fibromyalgia can occur along side chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).


There is no specific test for fibromyalgia and it tends to be a diagnosis made after excluding other conditions. It can typically take years to diagnose.

Symptoms are similar to several other diseases such as under-active thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

The points on the body, shown below, were universally accepted to be tender upon pressure in fibromyalgia sufferers.

According to American College of Rheumatology guidelines, people with fibromyalgia have pain in at least 11 of these points when pressure is applied.

A move away from this model, however, has begun and now healthcare professionals are asked to consider whether patients have widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for at least 3 months or more, have fatigue and some cognitive decline such as memory problems or fogging, in order to make a diagnosis.


There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia and patients can suffer from months to years.

Focus should be on relief of pain in the brain rather than peripheral structures.

Treatment centres around relief of symptoms with medications such as painkillers and antidepressants.

Anti-inflammatory gels rubbed into painful areas may be useful.

CBT or counselling.

Exercise and relaxation programs.

Physical therapy to improve posture, improve function and increase activity has been shown to help sufferers.

Heated pool use

Support groups such as Fibromyalgia Action Uk can be very helpful and put sufferers in touch with each other.

Further resources and information:

If you feel you may be suffering from fibromyalgia please visit your GP or practice nurse. Osteopathy can be helpful in managing pain and improving function.

Thanks for reading.

For osteopathy in High Wycombe and beyond, call Lucy or Ebony on 07833 321604 or visit our website




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