What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, long-term illness. It causes all-over muscle pain, joint pain and fatigue. The pain may come and go. There’s no known cause, although certain factors such as stress and genetics may predispose someone toward the disease. Although there isn’t a cure, medications, lifestyle changes and other therapies offer relief.

How common is fibromyalgia?

An estimated 4 million Americans (2% of the U.S. population) have fibromyalgia.

Who might get fibromyalgia?

Anyone can get fibromyalgia, including children. Women are twice as likely as men to have fibromyalgia. Symptoms often appear during middle age. Up to 20% of patients who suffer from other chronic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and sarcoidosis can also have fibromyalgia.

What causes fibromyalgia?

Medical experts don’t know why some people develop fibromyalgia. It sometimes runs in families. Certain conditions or events may bring on symptoms, such as:

  • Stressors such as: being born premature, traumatic life events such as abuse, accidents.
  • Medical conditions such as viral infections or other illnesses.
  • Anxiety, depression, other mood disorders, PTSD.
  • Poor sleep.
  • Lack of exercise.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Widespread muscle pain and joint pain along with fatigue and poor sleep are the defining symptoms of fibromyalgia. The disease affects people differently. You may also experience:

What triggers a fibromyalgia attack?

Certain things can bring on fibromyalgia symptoms (a flare-up) especially those that increase the level of stress. These include:

  • Changes in daily routines.
  • Dietary changes or a poor diet.
  • Hormone fluctuations.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Stressors such as work-related, illness, emotional stress.
  • Treatment changes.
  • Change in sleep patterns (for example, shift work).
  • Weather or temperature changes.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/01/2020.


  • American College of Rheumatology. Fibromyalgia. Accessed 11/3/2020.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fibromyalgia. Accessed 11/3/2020.
  • National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association. What Is Fibromyalgia? Accessed 11/3/2020.
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Fibromyalgia. Accessed 11/3/2020.

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